A neurologist is a medical doctor that specializes in the care, diagnosis, treatment and management of disorders of the brain and nervous system. The journey to become a neurologist covers an extensive educational pathway and takes roughly 12 years after high school to complete. Aside from the required educational course, some neurologists may seek additional training in a subspecialty, such as epilepsy, stroke or movement impairment disorders, which could add to the time required.
The first step in becoming a neurologist is to obtain an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. An undergraduate degree may be completed in three years, but traditionally a college degree is completed in four years. There is not a designated undergraduate major that is required as a prerequisite to become a neurologist. However, majoring in a biological science, chemistry or physics provides a good foundation for medical school.
The second step in the journey to become a neurologist is to complete four years of medical school. Medical school provides a knowledge base for practicing medicine and the opportunity to select an area of specialization. The first and second year of medical school are devoted to demanding academic coursework. The last two years of medical school include clinical rotations, supervised medical work that closely approximates practicing medicine.
The first postgraduate year after medical school -- or PGY-1 -- is a medical internship designed to provide a real world experience as a doctor while under the tutelage, guidance and collaboration of residents and physicians in a medical facility. The internship, which in some programs is referred to as the first year of residency, is usually devoted to academic and practical experience in internal medicine. Additionally, this experience provides exposure to the operation of a medical or research facility.
The neurology residency -- PGY-2 through PGY-4 -- is completed in three years and provides exposure to clinical experiences covering a wide range of subtopics within neurology. During the first year, interns have the opportunity to provide inpatient and outpatient care to neurological patients. The second year may require consultation on more complex medical issues. The final year of residency is characterized by leadership within the residency program and more collaborative consultation with attending physicians.