What is a Neurologist?


If you are wondering what is a neurologist then I hope this article will shed more light in that regard.

A Neurologist is a medical specialist in the field of neurology who is formally trained to undertake the care the patients with neurological diseases.

Neurology Residency

He/she reaches this status and title in a stepwise manner typical for any professional. Generally a three years neurology residency is required. The trainee is called as neurology resident. During this course they learn anatomy, physiology and the diseases of the nervous system and simultaneously apply this knowledge on the patients they come across in the hospital wards, emergency rooms, ICU and clinics etc.

They also undergo lot of academic sessions includin journal clubs, case presentation, seminars, grand rounds etc under the close supervision of senior neurology specialists.

After successfully completing this residency training they are required to take an examination. Although taking an exam examination and passing it may not be an absolute requirement to begin the actual neurology clinical practice, however candidates try to clear this exam as soon as possible.

In USA this examination is called as Board examination (American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, ABPN). In some countries like India the exam is called as DM (DM Neurology).

While without taking the above mentioned exams a neurologist could begin his/her clinical practice however they can not put their title with their name. For example in US American Board Certified title can be put only after passing the exam otherwise American Board Eligible term is used (of course this is not an official term). In countries like India DM title can be used only after passing neurology exam not otherwise.

Also clearing the exam and getting the official title confers lot of advantages to the doctor. For example patients prefer to be seen by exam-cleared doctors since it gives them more confidence. While dealing with medico legal situations, especially the borderline cases, a board certified or exam-cleared doctor's statements or handling a health situation may be viewed as more credible by the legal authorities.

What happens after Neurology Residency?

After successfully finishing the residency course in neurology now the doctor can enter the full fledged clinical practice. Some may do additional qualification called as fellowship (e.g. epilepsy fellowship, clinical neurophysiology fellowship etc). After completing the fellowship they may enter clinical practice. Academic and research positions are pursued too by many neurology specialists.

What happens before Neurology Residency?

Medical School:

Of course to do a neurology residency course there are certain basic requirements. These requirements may vary somewhat from country to country but the overall theme is similar.

All candidates must have first of all done a medical college course (medical graduation – doctor of medicine or osteopathic medicine). The number of years in the medical school in US is 4 years. To get into a medical school in US a bachelor degree is most often needed but not in all countries.

Post Medical School:

After the medical school, a compulsory clinical rotation is must (called for example an as internship) before a doctor can get license to practice, as well as earn the title like MD, MBBS etc. The time duration varies from 1 to 2 years in general. In US an additional exam USMLE has to be cleared to get the license.

After accomplishing all these, the fledgling doctor now can start eyeing for specialty like internal medicine, neurology, surgery etc.

To do a neurology residency at least some internal medicine exposure is required and the exact guidelines may differ among countries. In general around 1 to 1 ½ years of internal medicine residency is enough to pursue a neurology residency. But in some countries it is generally done after 3 years residency in internal medicine.

What is a Neurologist's job rsponsibility?

As mentioned above he/she deals with all the diseases of the nervous system. They first take a detailed history and then examine the patient. After this if required investigations will be ordered. Once a diagnosis is made the treatment will commence. If definite diagnosis cannot be made a symptomatic treatment is given. Also at that point in time another opinion may be obtained from other specialists from the same field , usually who have more experience.

What is a Neurologist's Work load?

Working long hours is usually the norm for this specialist. Night & weekend calls are common. In countries like US in many places there are group practices so they can share the calls, but even then quite often they are busy. Emergency calls are very frequent due to conditions like stroke, meningitis, seizures, encephalitis, head injuries etc.

For acute stroke the clot buster treatment should be given within 2 to 3 hours, for conditions like status epilepticus (serious recurrent seizures) the seizure must be terminated in less than 15 to 30 minutes so a neurology specialist has to be available in a jiffy most often.

Synopsis of What is a Neurologist?

Neurology is one of the most challenging and daunting subspecialty areas in the medicine field. Lot of hard work, analytical thinking, common sense, dedication, and experience are all necessary to master this field. But when that mastering eventually happens then it is indeed one of the most charming medicine sub-specialties and a neurologist is among the most satisfied physicians.

I hope this - What is a Neurologist - article has answered at least some of your questions or satisfied at least some of your curiosities related to the medical specialist who deals with the neurological disorders who is called as a neurologist.

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