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Professions in the medical field are lucrative, interesting, and exciting. However, when selecting a particular career path, you need to know exactly what you are getting into. This is especially the case when two different medical professions focus on the same regions of the body. Neurologists and neurosurgeons both treat the same areas of the body. However, they do so in very different ways.


Neurologist Definition and Neurologist Meaning

Neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the brain and the nervous system. They also treat their supporting systems and tissues.

What Does a Neurologist Do?

The neurologist job description varies depending on their specific specialty. Some neurologists concentrate on neurophysiology. They use tests such as electroencephalograms to discover whether a patient has a particular neurological condition. Others specialize in the handling of neurodevelopmental disorders. An example of such a disorder is cerebral palsy.

Some neurologists focus on pain management. Finally, vascular neurologists treat conditions of the circulatory system that involve the function of the brain or nerves.

What Is a Neurosurgeon?

A neurosurgeon uses several different therapies to treat neurological conditions. They might do surgery or apply radiation to the body. The work of the neurosurgeon often will overlap with that of the neurologist. Many times, the neurosurgeon will work on a team that includes neurologists.


There is a big difference between the income earned by these two medical professions. The neurosurgeon will typically make more money than the neurologist, even in their first year of practice. It is reported that the median first-year income for neurologists is $190,000. The neurosurgeon’s salary dwarfs this. Their starting salary is $395,000 a year.

How to Become a Neurologist

The Job Market

The outlook for jobs in neurology is very favorable. There is currently an 11 percent shortage of neurologists. It is also projected that there will be a 19 percent shortage by 2025.

The Steps to Becoming a Neurologist

Get an Undergraduate Degree

After you graduate from high school, you need to attend a college or university. Since the field is very competitive, you will need to go to a school with a great reputation. Your major will need to be one in the sciences. Many schools have pre-med majors. For medical school, you will need a four-year degree. You should try to maintain a GPA at or above 3.4. Your GPA is crucial in terms of getting into med school.

Take the MCAT and Apply to Medical School

After you graduate from your undergraduate program, you must take the MCAT. You will need a good score on this exam. You will then apply to schools. Your application process will include personal interviews. It is very competitive to get into a top school.

Medical School

After you have been accepted into medical school, you will need to complete four years of medical studies. This is followed by a one-year internship. This internship is a crucial step in becoming a doctor. The internship will provide you the opportunity to train under the supervision of professionals in the field.


When you go through your internship, you will develop an interest in a particular area of the field. You will then find a residency program that is based upon your interests. Your residency program will then give you the in-depth training that you need for your sub-specialty. This training is rather intense.


After you finish your residency, you may wish to apply for a fellowship. Fellowships can take up to a couple ofyears to complete. They will give you more experience in your sub-specialty.

Get Board Certified and Open Your Practice

After you have completed the above steps, you will need to undergo more testing. You will need to take oral and written tests to become a board certified Doctor of Neurology. After you pass your exams, you can establish your practice and start working as a neurologist.

How to Become a Neurosurgeon

According to the NYU School of Medicine, you will need to have some or all of the following traits to become a neurosurgeon:

  1. An understanding of anatomy, physiology, and other areas of science.
  2. A good feel for spatial relationships. You will be dealing with the actual brain, spinal cord, nerves, and blood vessels.
  3. Mechanical ability and dexterity.
  4. A commitment to working with patients.
  5. A sense of what professionalism is.

Steps to Becoming a Neurosurgeon

The first steps to becoming a neurosurgeon are very similar to those for becoming a neurologist. You will need to attend a prestigious undergraduate program in the sciences or pre-med. You will then take the MCAT and apply to medical school.

You will spend four years in medical school. The second part of medical school consists of rotations. It is during this time that you will make your decision to gravitate towards your specialty. After the second part of medical school, you need to take the United States Medical Licensing Exam.


At the end of medical school, students will apply for a neurosurgery residency program. A neurosurgery residency will last for an average of seven years. Sometimes it is even as long as eight years.

Special Training

There are different subspecialties of neurosurgery. These include pediatric, peripheral, and spine surgery. Each of these areas requires additional training after or near the end of your residency program.


In addition to state licensing, there are particular board requirements to become certified as a neurosurgeon. The American Board of Neurological Surgery publishes everything that you will need to know about this.
In conclusion, in this article we have dealt with the following questions:

  1. What is a neurologist?
  2. What is a neurosurgeon?
  3. How do you become a neurologist?
  4. How do you become a neurosurgeon?

The truth is that there is a lot of overlap between these two professions because they both deal with the same regions of the body. However, the way that each professional treats the body is different. Also, the neurologist many times is more concerned with the diagnosis of neurological disorders than the neurosurgeon is. Neurosurgeons and neurologists thus work together many times on a treatment team.

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