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What Skills Are Needed to Become a Neurologist?

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A neurologist is a medical doctor with a specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of the human nervous system. Although a neurologist does not perform surgery, specific skills are needed, as the work completed by a neurologist is used by neurosurgeons that do perform brain surgery to improve the nervous system or cure diseases of the brain.


Neurologists work closely with patients to diagnose and treat clinical disorders of the human nervous system. This includes the brain, nerves and spinal cord. A neurologist must be able to communicate effectively, as patients may simply feel bad without knowing why. The doctor must ask questions about headaches, sleep disorders, old spinal or brain injuries or nerve disorders to determine the root cause of the pain or problems of the patient. Since some patients may feel uncomfortable, friendly communication is a must.

Administrative Skills

A neurologist must have administrative skills, including basic reading and writing skills. Neurologists must update patients’ files and update any progressions made by the patients during treatment. The neurologist must also have excellent writing skills, since he may be writing a patient’s condition down to a neurosurgeon who will be conducting surgery on the patient. If one patient decides to change neurosurgeons, a detailed patient file may be required to sent to the new doctor, so detailed notes are needed of the patient’s health and status.

Research Skills

It is expected that neurologists continue to conduct research in the field to find new medical advancements that could potentially work as treatments for some of the issues in neurology. If one type of treatment may not work on a patient, the neurologist may suggest other treatments based on new research conducted in the field. Research skills are also needed if the patient is complaining of specific pains, but they are not consistent with common symptoms of a nerve disorder. Conducting additional research can help pinpoint the reason for the discomfort and provide the proper treatment.


Since neurologists perform tests and treatments in local clinics, the neurologist may need to perform diagnostic testing in the clinic as part of the diagnosis or further treatment. The neurologist must be able to conduct CAT scans, MRIs, MRAs, spinal tap testing and tests that focus on the nerve conduction in the human body. While operating the machinery and conducting the tests may not be types of skills, the ability to learn and utilize new equipment is a must for neurologists.


Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.