Job Requirements for a Neurosurgeon

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    Education

    • The first phase of requirements for jobs in neurosurgery includes the completion of post-secondary education. Prospective neurosurgeons begin their career preparation by completing college coursework at the baccalaureate in mathematics, natural sciences like chemistry and biology and humanities like English. Although medical school admission policies allow students to apply with only three years of undergraduate education, only 10 percent of medical school applicants do not earn full four-year baccalaureate degrees, explains the Association of American Medical Colleges. Once enrolled in medical school, students spend two years completing advanced-level coursework in anatomy and sciences followed by two years of clinical internship training. After completion of the four year medical school programs, students receive a Medical Doctor or M.D. degree.

    Licensing

    • After graduating from medical school, prospective neurosurgeons must earn a general license to practice medicine independently in their respective state. Each state has its own requirements for licensing, but all mandate that students pass a written examination. Known as the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), this computer-based test consists of three sections. The examination assesses physicians' knowledge of science and clinical practice, their clinical skills and their ability to apply concepts learned in medical school to real-life situations.

    Residency

    • Once they have earned their state licensure, prospective neurosurgeons can proceed into the final training phase of the necessary requirements for working in the specialty. Doctors must complete a 72-month residency at a hospital facility approved by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. During the first 12 months of the program, students receive basic training in surgical skills, learning how to perform operations on all parts of the body. Approximately 30 months of the program must then focus on the mastery of clinical skills specifically in neurosurgery. The remaining time in the program can include neurological or neuroscience research or additional clinical training.

    Certification

    • Upon completion of their residency, prospective neurosurgeons have the ability to apply for certification in the specialty from the American Board of Neurological Surgery. To apply, doctors submit a list of patients treated in the last 12 months of their residency as well as a professional resume and a list of any published papers they authored. Physicians must also undergo a three-hour oral examination with the Board. For the exam, doctors travel to Houston, Texas, and answer questions in an interview-type setting on topics like spinal surgery and the treatment of intracranial diseases. Once certified, neurosurgeons must complete continuing educational courses to renew their certification once every 10 years.

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