Neurologists are employed by hospitals, research institutes, managed-care offices, trauma centers, and colleges and universities. Some are self-employed in their own or group practices. Neurologists interested in teaching may find employment at medical schools or university hospitals. There are also positions available in government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration. Pharmaceutical companies and chemical companies hire physicians to research and develop new drugs, instruments, and procedures.
There are no shortcuts to entering the medical profession. Requirements are an M.D. degree, a licensing examination, a one- or two-year internship, and a three-year residency. Upon completing this program, neurologists are then ready to enter practice. They may choose to open a solo private practice, enter a partnership practice, enter a group practice, or take a salaried job with a managed-care facility or hospital. Salaried positions are also available with federal and state agencies, the military, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, and private companies. Teaching and research jobs are usually obtained after other experience is acquired.
Neurologists who work in a managed-care setting or for a large group or corporation can advance by opening a private practice. Some physicians may become directors of a laboratory, managed-care facility, hospital department, or medical school program. Some may move into hospital administration positions. A neurologist can also achieve recognition by conducting research in new medicines, treatments, and cures, and publishing their findings in medical journals. Participation in professional organizations can also bring prestige.
With further training, a neurologist may become a neurological surgeon. Neurological surgeons, also known as neurosurgeons, diagnose, evaluate, and treat patients with disorders or injuries affecting the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems. This specialist provides both nonsurgical and surgical care, depending on the nature of the injury or illness.
Tips for Entry
Volunteer at a hospital or nursing home to gain a better understanding of what it's like to work in these settings.
Participate in after-school activities, especially honors societies and student-run organizations, to increase your team-building and leadership skills.
Learn another language, particularly Spanish, as doctors often treat patients whose first language is not English.
See if your careers services office can set up an informational interview with a neurologist. Prepare a list of questions in advance so that you can learn more about this profession and see if this field is a good match for your skills and interests.