What is the role of a neurologist? What all does he do? If you are interested in practicing medicine in the field of neurology, this article will give you the answers, and much more.
The branch of medical science which deals with diseases and disorders of the nervous system is known as neurology. These include all ailments or injuries to the central, peripheral, as well as the autonomic nervous system, including all tissues, blood vessels, and muscles related to them. Now, a neurologist is a person who is professionally qualified to practice neurology and is officially, and legally authorized to investigate, diagnose, and treat neurological cases. Besides diagnosis and treatment, a neurologist may also work as a clinical, basic or translational researcher, besides being involved with clinical trials.
In the following segments, we are going to discuss the various aspects of the career of a neurologist, including eligibility, qualification, job description, average income, and scope of work. Before getting down to those details, let’s first clear one doubt regarding the difference between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon. Neurosurgery is the surgical branch of neurology, and a neurologist need not necessarily be a neurosurgeon.
To qualify as a neurologist in the US and Canada, a medical student is required to complete post graduation training in neurology after graduating from medical school. The entire sequence of training includes four years of undergraduate education, followed by another four years of graduation in medicine. After obtaining a graduate degree in medicine, the person needs to undergo another three to four years residency training in neurology.
On an average, one must undergo about 11 – 12 years of college education and academic training. One can also opt for fellowship programs after completing neurology residency, which can last for one to two additional years. These fellowship programs are in the form of subspeciality training that focus on a specific aspect of neurology, such as vascular neurology, interventional neurology, behavioral neurology, neurorehabilitation, neuroimmunology, sleep medicine, epilepsy, movement disorders, neuromuscular specialization, pain management, clinical neurophysiology, etc.
In many European countries like Germany, an additional year of psychiatric education must be undergone to complete a neurology residency program. In certain European nations like the UK and Ireland, neurology is included within the purview of general medicine studies, and is treated as a sub-speciality of it.
Field of Work
The scope of work includes investigating, diagnosing, and treating the following:
- Cognitive and behavioral disorders
- Nervous spasms and epilepsy
- Brain trauma and brain injuries
- Strokes and other cerebrovascular diseases
- Cerebral palsy
- Peripheral nervous system diseases and infections
- Spinal cord and brain tumors
- Multiple sclerosis
- Degenerative nervous disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases
- Movement disorders like Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, tic disorder, etc.
- Altered mental status
- Coma, stupor, etc.
As you can see, some areas like cognitive and behavioral therapy overlap with those of psychiatry.
Scope of Employment
Although most neurologists start their careers as private practitioners, reputed laboratories, research institutes, and specialized hospitals and treatment faculties for brain and mental disorders often hire them on a paid basis. Vacancies are, sometimes, also available in federal agencies and the corporate sector for mental and psychological evaluation of criminals and candidates/employees respectively.
Average Annual Income
The average annual salary can range anywhere between USD 2,00,000 to USD 3,00,000 per annum. Private practicing neurologists can earn an average of USD 1,80,000 per annum.