A doctor of neurology is more commonly referred to as a neurologist. These specialized physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions that affect the function of the brain and spinal cord, their related nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Becoming a neurologist typically requires about 12 to 13 years of extensive education and training before becoming board certified.
All physicians and surgeons must complete at least three years of undergraduate studies before entering medical school. Most complete a bachelor’s degree in a science discipline to increase their chances of acceptance into medical school. The American Medical Association suggests an undergraduate degree in sciences or physics. This includes biology, chemistry or life sciences.
After successful completion of undergraduate studies, aspiring doctors of neurology must attend a medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Most accredited medical schools require that applicants pass the Medical College Admission Test to gain admission. Medical school combines four years of classroom and laboratory training. Students also have the opportunity to work under the supervision of a physician or surgeon to learn the skills necessary for the job.
After completing medical school, students enter a residency program in a neurology setting. Most residency programs are completed in a hospital. Aspiring neurologists specializing in neurology and child neurology complete a four-year residency. Subspecialties of neurology, such as brain injury medicine or clinical neurophysiology, require five years of residency training. Training and residency programs must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
All states require doctors to obtain a license in the state they choose to practice in. Licensure requirements are administered by each state’s medical board. Along with passing a national licensure exam, some states have additional requirements to obtain a license.
The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology certifies neurologists to practice professionally. Although some states might not require board certification, many employers require it. After completing a residency in a neurology discipline, an application and exam are required to become board certified in neurology or one of its subspecialties.
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