Neurologists are specialized doctors who work with patients with nervous system issues, such as problems with the brain, spine and nerves in the body. To earn their medical degree and become licensed, neurologists must complete extensive coursework and clinical practice in college, usually spending about 12 to 15 years in school. Starting in high school, aspiring neurologists should focus their studies on science courses to prepare themselves for college programs that will also be concentrated on these classes, as well as a variety of other classes that will give them a broad knowledge base and the skills necessary to work in this area of medicine.
Undergraduate General Education
Before you can become a neurologist, you have to complete an undergraduate program, just like all college students seeking their bachelor’s degree. Much of the curriculum will be focused on liberal arts and humanities courses, such as English and social studies, as well as classes in foreign language and math. These classes are necessary to fulfill some of the requirements for a bachelor’s degree. However, students pursuing medical degrees can tailor their schedules to include more biology, chemistry and pre-med courses.
Undergraduate Science Classes
For an aspiring neurologist, science courses will make up a large part of their college career. Classes in biology, chemistry and physics will be taken throughout the undergraduate program and beyond, with students taking these courses for several semesters. Other science classes, such as molecular biology and biochemistry, will also be part of the curriculum. These science courses feature both classroom and lab work to give students essential background knowledge and hands-on experience working with lab equipment and developing their own theories.
After a student has earned a bachelor’s degree, the next step is medical school. These classes are strictly devoted to the study of the human body, disease and treatment. A sample medical school curriculum will include courses in anatomy, the nervous system, genetics and disease mechanisms. Medical students will also spend time in clinical environments, doing rotations and working with patients and more experienced doctors.
The residency period is where doctors can begin to specialize in a chosen area, such as neurology. While traditional classes aren’t typically included, residents still work within an academic environment, and this is where they will gain much of the knowledge and skills they’ll need to practice in this specialty field of medicine. Neurology residents will continue working in hospitals and other facilities under the supervision of experienced neurologists. Rotations focused on areas such as pediatric neurology, neuroradiology and neuropathology are some of the options for students.
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- UMass Medical School: Neurology Residency Overview
Suzy Kerr graduated from Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia. She completed her Master's degree in Nutrition Sciences, also at the University of Georgia. Suzy has been a successful health, fitness and nutrition writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in various print and online publications.