Path to Becoming a Neurologist or Neurosurgeon

If you’re dreaming of becoming a doctor, first you need to know how long it will last. Apart from being disciplined, motivated and hard-working, getting a medical degree requires continual education. In addition to that, during your lengthy education, you’ll need to know which decisions to make, especially if you want to find yourself on the path to becoming a neurologist or neurosurgeon. Of course, each country’s medical education is different than the next, but these are the basics. 

What do a neurologist and a neurosurgeon do?

A neurologist and a neurosurgeon both specialise in analysing, diagnosing and treating medical issues of the nervous system. However, there’s a slight difference between the two, a neurosurgeon is also skilled in performing surgeries, while a neurologist diagnoses and treats medical issues of the nervous system.

How does a neurosurgeon start their medical education?

When it comes to pursuing a medical career, it’s always best to start preparing for this field as early as possible. Some countries have medical high schools, so those interested in a medical career start preparing as early as possible. Others can move to a medical degree program that they can take after either completing two years of college or after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Either way, we’ll discuss the most common path to becoming a neurosurgeon which differs slightly from Australia to the USA and to other countries in the world.

Step One – Bachelor’s degree

The first step on the oath to become a neurologist is to obtain a medical school degree or a bachelor’s degree. You’ll either graduate from medical school or obtain a bachelor’s degree in medicine, particularly neurology. A person with a bachelor’s degree in medicine will obtain all the necessary skills to become a doctor of medicine.

Step Two – Certification

This step might happen earlier or later, depending on the country.  However, certification is required if you want to be eligible for the next step in becoming a neurosurgeon. Some countries require six-month training to a year before a person can be certified, either as a registered medical practitioner or as a neurosurgeon.

Step Three – An Internship at a hospital

Certification is followed by an internship at a hospital. Or, it’s a requirement to get certified as a medical practitioner.  This internship can last for a year or up to five years if it happens after the certification, as a part of the residency.

For example, in Australia, those who wish to become a reputable neurosurgeon in Brisbane or any other city, take up an internship to gather all the necessary skills for their further career. So, this step is of utmost importance in all countries, as it builds your skills, and knowledge and prepares you for your chosen career.

Step Four – Take up a residency in neurosurgery

Residency is probably the longest period in the life of a doctor because it’s when they get made into the doctor they wish to be. The time spent in mandatory residency can be from three to seven years, but it’s something people getting into a medical profession know from the start. In Australia, it can take up to twelve years for a medical doctor to be called a neurosurgeon. It can take even longer, as it takes up to 16 years of training to become a neurosurgeon.

Step Five – Take up specialist training

If a neurosurgeon wants to specialise in a specific field, they can take up a fellowship or specialist training. This can later be their subspecialty in the field of neurosurgery. They will get clinical experience and the right practice, which they will later practice throughout their career.

Step Six – Continual education

The last step is continual education through additional training, medical conferences, medical research and scientific research, annual meetings and other ways to upgrade their medical knowledge. Neirosurgery is a complex field, and just like any other area of medicine, there are constant advances and improvements made.


In addition to spending years and years on advanced medical education and training, a neurosurgeon, neurologist or any other medical professional has to work on their soft skills. Communication, empathy, and listening skills are as important as other skills. Attention to detail, decision making and critical thinking also go in step with all other specialty training. So, if you want to build proper rapport with your future patients, work on these areas as well.

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