A healthy human brain still holds secrets that baffle scientists, so imagine the difficulties in trying to treat an ill one. Neurologists aim to unlock the secrets of the nervous system and help patients with neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and cerebral palsy. By obtaining a graduate degree in neurology, you can join scientists in their mission to treat these disorders and do cutting-edge research. If you've decided that neurology is for you, bear in mind that you may spend up to 12 years, including four years in medical school, before obtaining all the qualifications necessary to become a neurologist.
How to Get a Graduate Degree in Neurology
You must have an undergraduate degree to attend medical school. While there's no required major for medical school, consider a pre-med, biology, biochemistry or chemistry major. These fields will help prepare you for the material in medical school.
Strive for a GPA above 3.0. According to the Medical School Companion, the average GPA for students entering medical school is 3.4. Only 2 percent of students who were accepted had a GPA that was below 2.5.
Consider electives in English and psychology. Good writing and verbal skills are essential for those pursuing a medical career. Since neurology shares much in common with psychology, courses in psychology are useful.
At some time in your undergraduate studies, you must take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which is a standardized test that all medical schools require. The MCAT consists of four sections: biological sciences, physical sciences, verbal reasoning and a writing sample. This test takes 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete, and a competitive scaled score is generally between 10 and 11. A high MCAT score may offset a poor GPA.
Once you've been accepted to medical school you can focus more on neurology. You should take classes centered on the nervous system. Courses such as anatomy, pathology, pharmacology and physiology are essential.
Although you'll have your degree after completing medical school, you will still need to complete a residency. You must apply to a clinic or hospital in order to complete this last step.
Your residency will typically consist of four years. One year will be in general clinical training. For the next three years, you'll have more freedom in choosing your specialty. It is during this time that you'll hone your neurological knowledge and become a full-fledged neurologist.
- While mental health disorders fall under neurology, they're not the focus of this field. If you're interested in the psychological aspects of the brain, consider psychiatry.
Shannon Lausch is a freelance writer and editor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science (with minors in French and journalism) from North Central College. Besides writing for Demand Studios, she enjoys contributing to Associated Content and Helium. Her favorite topics to write on include education, politics and fiction.