According to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, neurologists are responsible for diagnosing and treating neurological disorders in patients and can be the primary physician for patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer's. While neurologists may recommend surgery, they do not perform surgery. If they diagnose a patient with a brain tumour, they will refer that patient to a neurosurgeon. A neurosurgeon specialises in performing surgeries on the brain or nervous system. Neurologists treat neurological disorders, such as headaches, sleep disorders, epilepsy, strokes, brain tumours and brain and spine injuries.
Prospective neurologists should earn a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, biology or a related field of study. After you receive your degree, the next step is medical school, which takes 4 years of study. Once you graduate from an accredited medical school, you become a medical doctor. Following medical school, a doctor goes on to an internship for 1 to 2 years and then a specialised residency program for 3 years.
While doctors participate in 3-year residency programs, they are offered the opportunity to teach, research and improve their understanding of the nervous system. While in residency, neurologists have the option of choosing a speciality, such as cerebrovascular disease, epilepsy/seizure disorder, clinical neurophysiology or neuroimmunology.
Aspiring neurologists must participate in certain training rotation requirements. For example, the University of Vermont College of Medicine offers Pediatric Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology Lab, Outpatient Neurology, Cognitive and Linguistic Disorders in Children and Developmental Neuropsychology and Acting Internship (AI) in Neurology. In Pediatric Neurology, doctors are trained to treat inpatient and outpatient paediatric cases, and in the Clinical Neurophysiology Lab, neurologists are trained in sleep testing. Outpatient Neurology involves working in a neurologist's clinic and training under an experienced doctor. Cognitive and Linguistic Disorders in Children and Developmental Neuropsychology trains doctors in how to treat patients who have behaviour, development and speech disorders; in an Acting Internship, doctors take a more prominent role in treating patients.
While in a neurological residency and seminars, neurologists will be trained in how to use MRIs, CAT scans and EEGs to diagnose patients and analyse the images to determine the severity of the disorders. An MRI and a CAT scan provide detailed pictures of the brain, blood vessels and spinal structure. An EEG is used to evaluate the severity of seizure disorders.
During residency, neurologists are trained to work with patients and learn how to diagnose and treat them effectively. After residency, neurologists continue to train through seminars to keep up-to-date with the latest advancements in this field. Continued training is required, because as technology advances, so do the opportunities to save lives. When a neurologist meets with a patient, she will analyse the patient's blood and cerebro-spinal fluid to determine the extent of the disorder. Neurologists study the microscopic, chemical, bacteriological and biological components in a patient's blood to identify the presence of parasites or pathological blood conditions. Neurologists also study the results of X-rays and electroencephalograms to detect any abnormalities with the brain. After identification, neurologists prescribe the necessary treatment or medication.