A neurologist is a doctor that specializes in neurology and treats disorders that affect the nervous system, such as the brain and spinal cord. The purpose of this article is to provide a clear and detailed overview of the neurologist job description. For more information related to the duties, skills, and qualifications of a neurologist, continue reading below.
Job Overview: What Does a Neurologist Do?
Neurologists are responsible for treating and managing neurological conditions. They often help people who are experiencing seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disorders, migraines, and much more.
Upon the first meeting with a patient, a neurologist will perform a physical and neurological exam. These exams are used to test reflexes, muscle strength, and coordination. They may also carry out other procedures to help diagnose conditions, such as a Lumbar puncture, Tensilon test, or an Electroencephalogram (EEG). Surgery is not part of the neurologist job description. If surgery is needed, a neurologist will refer the patient to a neurosurgeon.
Neurologist Job Duties
- Examine patients suffering from neurological disorders.
- Work with primary care physicians on a consulting basis should a patient show symptoms related to a neurological issue.
- Diagnose neurological disorders and order diagnostic tests such as blood tests and imaging tests to aid in identifying neurological disorders.
- Perform and evaluate the outcome of a Lumbar puncture, Tensilon test, and EEG.
- Develop a treatment plan for patients and their specific condition.
- Direct the activities of nurses and other medical technicians in the treatment of patients
- Evaluate patient progress.
- Conduct research by developing and administering clinical trials to further knowledge in the field of neurology.
- Provide training to medical students or other staff members.
- Actively continue education by staying up to date in the field to provide patients with the best care.
Neurologist Job Essential Skills
Professionalism. Successful neurologists must be able to conduct themselves in a professional manner. This means remaining friendly and approachable, staying composed when dealing with sensitive situations or information, and being organized and prepared at all times.
Communication. Excellent communication skills are needed to clearly discuss conditions and treatments with patents in a way that they fully understand. Neurologist must be able to communicate and work collaboratively with other medical technicians to aid in diagnosing, administering treatment, and evaluating patient outcomes accurately.
Knowledgeable, It is vital that a neurologist be knowledgeable in their area of expertise. They must possess analytical skills, have attention to detail, and an extensive understanding of medicine.
Self-Motivation and Compassion. Being self-motivated and having a genuine desire to help people is important. A neurologist must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.
Learning Continuation. Staying up to date with the latest neurological and medical advances is critical. One must be able to work and study in order to learn new information that may affect a diagnosis or treatment. Many neurologists decide to conduct independent research.
Becoming a Neurologist
Becoming a neurologist is quite demanding in terms of education and training. The Bureau of Labor states that almost all physicians, neurologists included, must complete at least 4 years of undergraduate and medical school, and an internship that can range from 3 to 7 years. Medical schools tend to be competitive, so those seeking to become a neurologist will find it beneficial to achieve a high score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and volunteer at local clinics or hospitals to gain experience.
Qualifications and Training
Before applying to med school, students must submit their score from the MCAT, as well as letters of recommendation. A bachelor’s degree with courses in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English is required. At least 4 years of medical school is needed, as well as 2 of those years to include working hands-on with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians.
Medical students will go through rotations within a clinic or hospital to gain experience in fields such as family practice, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery. After medical school, graduates participate in a residency program. This can range from 3 to 7 years depending on the field of study.
Finally, physicians are required to be licensed in all states, and must pass a standardized national licensure exam.
The job of a neurologist is demanding and requires an extensive knowledge of medicine. Those looking to get into this field must go through rigorous training and medical school. The chance of obtaining a job in this field without a background in medicine is nonexistent. However, experience can be gained through hands-on training during medical school classes, residency programs, and volunteering.
Most physicians are not able to follow the standard 40-hour work week, and neurologists make no exception. This profession can be quite stressful at times, and providing proper treatment to patents may require working over 60 hours a week. Those who work in medical facilities may have to work weekends as well. However, those in research facilities and schools get to enjoy regular working hours.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The overall job outlook for neurologists is quite good. The Bureau of Labor shows a 14% increase for physicians through 2024, a rate much faster then the average job. However, as technology continues to advance, physicians will be able to treat more patients at a quicker rate. This could cause a dip in job growth later on, as less people will be needed to do the same jobs. Job prospects are best for those willing to practice in low-income and rural areas, as these host the greatest demand. The average annual salary of a neurologist is of about $380,378 according to Payscale.
The job of a neurologist is quite complex and takes a great deal of education to learn. Compassion and a genuine desire to help people are a must in the neurologist job description. Those seeking a job in this field must be willing to dedicate themselves to many years of school and internships before ultimately practicing the job they love. The hours tend to be long, but neurologists are often compensated for their hard work with a good salary.