The goal to become a neurosurgeon can be a long yet rewarding path that requires strong grades in school, far above average hours of work per week and over a decade of training. Neurosurgery involves the treatment of diseases and conditions that affect the spinal cord, peripheral nervous system, brain and central nervous system. Intelligent, highly self-motivated students who have deep interest in the brain make strong candidates for neurosurgeons.
A neurosurgeon is brought in to treat and diagnose conditions that affect neurological systems such as the spinal cord, brain and other related arteries and nerves, cites Degree Finders. Some procedures that a neurologist might treat include head trauma, infections, epilepsy, strokes, brain tumors, spinal stenosis and malformations of the central nervous system. Neurosurgeons plan treatment of neurology patients with other physicians and discuss procedures and follow-up treatment plans. Some may specialize in particular areas of neurosurgery such as pediatric neurosurgery, stroke neurosurgery and open vascular neurosurgery.
Training in neurosurgery requires over a decade of focused education that begins with a four-year pre-med bachelor’s degree. Once taking the MCAT exam, the prospective neurosurgeon goes to a top medical school for four years. After medical school, a neurosurgeon might take an internship related to general surgery that may take an additional year. Following the internship, the doctor can then apply for residency in neurosurgery at a facility that can take between five and eight years. Continued training may include a fellowship with a subspecialty of neurosurgery like pediatric neurosurgery or stroke neurosurgery that can take another one to two years. After passing a certification test, the training will have taken 15 to 19 years to become a neurosurgeon, according to Neurosurgery PA.
Of all doctors certified by the American Association of Neurosurgeons, approximately 43 percent are in private practice, 32 percent of them work full-time for colleges and universities and 2 percent work for the federal government, according to Health Care Salary Online. The prospects for neurosurgery careers in the future are strong as employment of surgeons in general is expected to grow faster than the average of other professions between 2006 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Neurosurgeons make a very high salary in general, with the middle 50 percent of neurosurgeons averaging between $359,804 and $579,840. The top 10 percent earn an annual salary of over $690,309 according to Salary Wizard. The lowest 10 percent earn around $121,830 per year, which is close to $58.57 per hour. Neurosurgeons tend to work an average of 40 hours per week and a total of 2,080 hours per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.