Neurosurgery is an area of medical science that deals with the prevention and treatment of disorders that affect the human brain, spinal cord and nerves. This career path requires a lot of advanced education including a four-year bachelor's degree, a four-year medical school degree, a one-year internship, and five to seven years of residency work in neurosurgery.
Advanced Placement Courses
Students who have an interest in neurosurgery can prepare for their future careers by taking advanced placement courses in a variety of subjects while they are still in high school. AP courses are high school equivalents to college courses and students can receive college credit by passing an AP exam in the subject. AP courses are offered by many high schools, and they are typically the most rigorous courses in each subject area. Students interested in becoming neurosurgeons should take advanced placement courses in biology, chemistry, calculus and physics.
Students who are interested in neurosurgery will have to complete a number of pre-med requirements while they are in college to qualify for admission to medical school. One of the major pre-med requirements is one year of general biology with a laboratory section. To prepare for these courses, students should take a year of general biology with a laboratory in high school and a course in AP biology, if available. General biology is a prerequisite for AP biology, and both courses give students a strong foundation in the study of life and cells, as well as experience in dealing with biological samples in a research setting. Furthermore, a course in AP biology will also help prepare them for more advanced pre-med courses such as microbiology.
Chemistry is the study of the building blocks that make up our world. It covers topics such as elements, atoms, molecules, compounds and chemical reactions. Just as with biology, chemistry also has a laboratory component. Premed students have to take one year of general chemistry and one year of organic chemistry, each with a laboratory section. High school students interested in neurosurgery should take a year of general chemistry with a laboratory and a course in AP chemistry, if it is available. These courses will provide them with an introduction to the subject and prepare them for more advanced premed courses such as biochemistry and organic chemistry.
All pre-med programs require students to have a basic level of understanding of mathematics. Therefore, almost all programs require students to take a class in calculus. Calculus is the study of rates of change of functions and some pre-med programs require students to take calculus 1 and 2. To prepare for this coursework, high school students interested in neurosurgery should take as many math courses as possible. Typical math courses offered in high school, in chronological order, are pre-algebra, algebra 1 and 2, pre-calculus, AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC. Students interested in neurosurgery should take both sections of AP calculus, if it is available.
Pre-med programs also require students to take one year of introductory physics with a laboratory. This course typically requires students to have knowledge of calculus. High school students interested in neurosurgery should take at least one year of general physics and AP Physics B and C, if it is available. Both courses will introduce them to this highly mathematical science and help them succeed in the physics courses in college.
Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.