What steps should I take to become a Neurologist?
1. Enroll in the best college that admits you, and major in premedicine or
another science-based major. Complete your 4-year degree. Get the best grades
possible so you can parlay your grades and the reputation of your college into a
medical school acceptance.
2. Attend medical school. Graduate after 4 years with an acceptable grade point
average to attain a desirable internship.
3. Spend 1 year in an internship. Study in your off hours to keep up with the
latest developments in the field. Choose an internship in medicine and surgery
or in internal medicine. Seek a residency program.
4. Complete a medical residency in neurology. Apply for a fellowship, if you
desire more specific training in your field. Complete a short fellowship, or
remain in a fellowship for decades.
5. Test for certification to become a board-certified doctor in neurology. Make
sure you already have an unrestricted license to practice medicine in your state
and have adhered to all accepted medical ethics practices.
6. Apply to the American Board of Medicinal Specialties and take its oral and
written tests. Pass the tests with an acceptable grade on each test.
7. Set up your neurology practice, or join with other doctors in a partnership.
Now you are a doctor who specializes in neurology-a neurologist.
How do I Get a Graduate Degree in Neurology?
1. You must have an undergraduate degree to attend medical school. While there's
no required major for medical school, consider a pre-med, biology, biochemistry
or chemistry major. These fields will help prepare you for the material in
2. Strive for a GPA above 3.0. According to the Medical School Companion, the
average GPA for students entering medical school is 3.4. Only 2 percent of
students who were accepted had a GPA that was below 2.5.
3. Consider electives in English and psychology. Good writing and verbal skills
are essential for those pursuing a medical career. Since neurology shares much
in common with psychology, courses in psychology are useful.
4. At some time in your undergraduate studies, you must take the Medical College
Admissions Test (MCAT), which is a standardized test that all medical schools
require. The MCAT consists of four sections: biological sciences, physical
sciences, verbal reasoning and a writing sample. This test takes 5 hours and 20
minutes to complete, and a competitive scaled score is generally between 10 and
11. A high MCAT score may offset a poor GPA.
5. Once you've been accepted to medical school you can focus more on neurology.
You should take classes centered on the nervous system. Courses such as
pathology, pharmacology and physiology are essential.
6. Although you'll have your degree after completing medical school, you will
still need to complete a residency. You must apply to a clinic or hospital in
order to complete this last step.
7. Your residency will typically consist of four years. One year will be in
general clinical training. For the next three years, you'll have more freedom in
choosing your specialty. It is during this time that you'll hone your
neurological knowledge and become a full-fledged neurologist.
How do I become a doctor of Neurology?
1. Earn your bachelor's degree. Becoming a neurologist requires that you go to
medical school, and a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for getting into
medical school. Majoring in pre-medicine is, however, not a necessary
requirement to get accepted to medical school. In reality, medical schools use a
variety of criteria to determine who is admitted and who is not. Your major,
although important, is not nearly as important as the types of classes you take
in order to prepare for medical school. Most medical school admission committees
will want to see that you have taken steps in preparation for medical school.
Taking as many classes in the biological sciences, chemistry and even physics
can bolster you medical school application. Medical schools will also look at
your grade point average, Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores and other
2. Apply to and complete medical school. In order to work as a neurologist, you
will need to obtain the doctor of medicine degree (M.D.). If possible, attend a
medical school that offers extended clerkships in neurology. According to the
American Academy of Neurology, most medical students learn about neurological
anatomy and physiology during their first two years of medical school and may
only complete a short clerkship, or practical hands-on training period, in the
field of neurology. These sometimes last only a few short weeks before students
move on to another area of medicine. The academy suggests either finding a
program with opportunities for specialization in this field during your fourth
year of medical studies or taking it as an elective through another medical
school if the opportunity is available.
3. Complete a residency in neurology. During medical school you learn much of
the science needed to become a neurologist, but after medical school is where
most neurologists receive the majority of their hands-on training in the field.
These residencies typically last about three years. During your residency you
will work under the supervision of a board certified neurologist. You will also
have the opportunity to specialize in one particular area of neurology like
neuro-oncology, Parkinson's and movement disorders, pediatric neurology or even
sleep disorders. Most residencies last about three years, but as the Bureau of
Labor Statistics notes, if you want to become board certified you may need to
spend up to seven years working as a resident.
4. Obtain your medical license. Each state has its own requirements to become
licensed to practice medicine, but all states require as a minimum that you pass
the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
5. Seek board certification. Board certification indicates that you have met the
highest standards for your profession in the field of neurology. Board
certification in neurology is carried out by the American Board of
and Neurology. The process involves extensive evaluation by the board throughout
your residency training.
How to Choose
for Aspiring Neurologists
The Accreditation Council
for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) defines neurology is the study of the
disorders related to the nervous system. To enter this field, students must
complete premed and general medical school before applying for a neurology
residency program. Those who want to specialize will need to apply for a
fellowship following the completion of their residency.
According to Salary.com, the
average neurologist makes $202,930, a fact that makes this a competitive field.
Students should first check accreditation. The Liaison Committee on Medical
Education (LCME) is the main accrediting body for medical schools and list all
the accredited programs by area of specialty on their website (www.acgme.org).
Besides the tuition of medical school,
cost-of-living expenses such as rent and food must be considered. According to
U.S. News and World Report, medical school tuition can range from $22,800
to $42,472 so cost-conscious students should consider in-state public schools as
opposed to out-of-state or private schools (www.usnews.com).
There are several other items that
students need to consider regarding medical school including (www.aan.com):
Whether a clerkship in neurology is offered as a requirement or an elective
Whether a Students Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN) chapter is available
Whether neurological research is being conducted
How to Choose
Residency and Fellowship Programs for Aspiring Neurologist
Before applying, students should
ensure that a residency or fellowship is accredited. Rather than the LCME, these
programs are accredited by the ACGME which also list the accredited programs on
their website (www.acgme.org).
Most residency programs will use the
National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) and the Electronic Residency
Application Service (ERAS) in the application process. The purpose of the NRMP
is to standardize the process and the ERAS expedites the process by allowing for
electronic exchange of application materials including a standardized
application, recommendation letters and transcripts (www.aamc.org).
A limited number of combination
programs in neurology are offered. They last at least a year longer in duration
and also available through the NRMP service. The following combination programs
are offered (www.aan.org):
- Internal medicine/neurology (5-year program)
Neurology/diagnostic radiology/neuroradiology (7-years)
Medical School and Neurology Residency and Fellowship Program Overviews
In the first two years, students
should learn about the anatomy, pharmacology,
pathology and physiology of
neurology followed by diagnosis and treatment in the final two. Some medical
schools offer specialized or advanced training in neurology during the fourth
year which can be based in research or clinical practice (www.aan.com).
Some neurology residency programs are
integrated and incorporate the first post-graduate year (PGY-1) into their
curriculum and some will require students to complete it separately (www.aan.com).
At the completion of a general neurology program, a resident should be able to
perform the following:
Demonstrate core knowledge in neurological sciences
Perform assessments and diagnose conditions
Interpret neurological data
Demonstrate an understanding of the health care system
Prospective residents should also
inquire about the stipend which according to the American Association of Medical
Colleges was $48,460 on the average in 2010 (www.aamc.org).
Fellowships allow neurologists who
have completed their residency to specialize in a specific area while offering
more autonomy than residencies. Fellows assist with the education of medical
students and residents while gaining experience in clinical decision-making and