Neurosurgeons are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and surgery of disorders of the brain and nervous system. Aspiring neurosurgeons must complete a bachelor of science degree with a premedical track, four years of medical school and six years of residency. Many follow their residency with a fellowship lasting one to two years, in which they gain clinical practice in a subspecialty. The career is a demanding one with long hours, but it pays very well and has several other benefits.
Neurosurgery allows a doctor to cure patients with a wide range of nervous system disorders, and to "improve and prolong the quality of life for patients with incurable neurological diseases," comments neurosurgery trainee Jonathan R. Ellenbogen in a 2009 article in "BMJ Careers." Neurosurgeon Deon Louw mentions the gratification a doctor feels when seeing life-changing improvements in patients after surgery, such as a paralyzed individual who is able to move again.
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A career in neurosurgery is suited for people who enjoy challenge, diversity, investigation and extensive thinking. Every day brings diagnostic challenges and a need to develop management plans involving treatment modalities from multiple areas of health care. The career also offers opportunities for academic work and for vital research in understanding how the brain works and in surgical correction of its pathology.
Neurosurgery is one of the highest-paying careers, as reported by Salary.com. These doctors can expect to earn over $100,000 per year as a starting salary, and some with less than one year of experience were making over $265,000 annually in 2010, shows the PayScale salary survey website. With five to nine years of experience, some neurosurgeons earn over $400,000 annually. The median salary for a neurosurgeon as of December 2010 was about $473,000, indicates Salary.com. The middle 50 percent of neurosurgeons on the earnings scale were making about $391,000 to $600,000, and the top 10 percent over $728,000 per year. In addition to salaries, neurosurgeons also receive substantial bonuses and profit-sharing benefits.
Prestige and recognition are other benefits of being a neurosurgeon, as neurosurgery is considered one of the most prestigious occupations, says Salary.com. The profession provides a wealth of opportunities for advancement, potential for leadership and for recognition in medical circles.