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Is becoming a neurosurgeon really as difficult as they say?

IvyLeagueForMeIvyLeagueForMe 34 replies8 threads Junior Member
edited January 2013 in Careers in Medicine
I understand that it is a truly competitive field, but it is something that I've been interested in for an extremely long time. I've also recently developed more of a personal attachment to it since I've been suffering from some neurological disorders, and I'd love to help people with situations similar to my own. As long as I score high on the MCATs and get into a reasonable medical school (BU, Tufts, etc.), would it be really unattainable? Would I have to be the top-ranking student in my class to land a residency in neurosurgery? Thanks so much for any advice!
edited January 2013
80 replies
Post edited by IvyLeagueForMe on
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Replies to: Is becoming a neurosurgeon really as difficult as they say?

  • arjuncase2008?arjuncase2008? 26 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Yeah I'd be interested in hearing what people had to say on this one....I've also wondered bout a career in neurosurgery.....
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  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike 11870 replies94 threads Senior Member
    My understanding is that you want to be talking about a board score of 235 or so on the USMLE Step I. This is below the average for a few schools in the country (WUSTL, Penn, Baylor) but considerably above the national average of 217.
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  • IvyLeagueForMeIvyLeagueForMe 34 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Would that be a definite (or almost definite) in for a residency in neurosurgery?
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  • CynicalBastardCynicalBastard . 10 replies1 threads New Member
    Well, if hard work and determination isn't your strong point you could always try bribery...

    There is no definate in for anything medical related, unless your a legacy, have made a massive donation, or know the admissions dean on a first name basis. That's life, so suck it up and move on.

    These guys have made some good points on things that you should be aware of. Basically, do lots of extra curricular's, study as hard as you can, and do the best work possible...or as I said earlier...you could always try bribery. Everyone has a pricetag, it's just all about finding it.

    If you really want to be a neurosurgeon, nothing should get in your way. So instead of writing on forums, you should be studying. Why are you reading this? Go study. Now.
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  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike 11870 replies94 threads Senior Member
    There are obviously no such things as definites if you've been accused of ethical violations or have had serious trouble in your medical school grades. But yes, generally you should regard a board score of 235 as a moderately safe bet for being admitted into one of the moderately competitive specialties' less-prestigious residencies. In other words, a 235 won't get you neuro at Hopkins, but it will probably get you neuro somewhere.
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  • bigndudebigndude 1051 replies3 threads Senior Member
    Neurosurg is not as competitive as it used to be. Plus tons of people quit it after the first years because they have some weird limits on work hours and they work you as much as possible. Check sdn, the people there for the most part say this. Neuro is hell according to most people and only worth it for those willing to go through it, and many aren't.
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  • postie15431postie15431 4 replies1 threads New Member
    i've always wanted to know, what is the difference between being a neurologist and a neurosurgeon. are neurologists able to become neurosurgeons without going through up the surgical food chain thing?
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  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike 11870 replies94 threads Senior Member
    I don't claim to be an expert, but I'm almost completely certain that they don't let you cut without going through the "surgical food chain".

    Now, I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. If you mean that surgical residencies are harder and more tiring than other residencies, then this is not true. As far as being kicked out of the program, contrary to what was claimed in the opening speech of Grey's Anatomy (the TV show, not the [very good, by the way] book), they do NOT intentionally set up weed-out programs for surgical interns.

    I've been told that such programs used to exist and might still show up occasionally, but they seem few and far between.
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  • postie15431postie15431 4 replies1 threads New Member
    i apologize, i worded my question wrong. what i meant to say was, if i did become a neurologist and i wanted to also be a neurosurgeon would i still have to go through a surgical internship and residency like anyone else, or would my current status as neurologist help me to get through that any faster
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  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike 11870 replies94 threads Senior Member
    Generally I'm under the impression that MD's in general can advance a little bit more quickly, but that's not clear to me. My guess is that doing both together would be longer than either but shorter than each of them? i.e. neurosurgery is nine years, neurology is five, (making those up), so a neurologist who later becomes a neurosurgeon would spend 12 total?
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  • PSedrishMDPSedrishMD 601 replies111 threads Member
    Neurology and neurosurgery are non related tracks. Neurology is really more of a medicine specialty (tho it is not a subspecialty of Internal Med and requires only a 1 year Medicine internship followed by 3 years of Neurology.
    Neurosurgery is a fully surgical subspecialty that may begin with a General Surgery residency but must end with the completion of a 6 year Neurosurgery residency.
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  • seidu patrickseidu patrick 1 replies1 threads New Member
    can you abreast me on the requirements needed to become a neurosurgeon
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  • Princess'DadPrincess'Dad 1077 replies46 threads Senior Member
    Neurologists push meds; neurosurgeons cut and cure.
    It is not that hard to become a NS, only takes alot of time - about the same as for a cardiac surgeon or a trauma surgeon. Few neurologists become surgeons as there is NO shortcut; lots of surgeons become neurologists for whatever reason.
    You can apply from med school for a program that has NS or most go to a general surgery residency and then transfer over. "Scores" don't mean much. Recommendations do.
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  • jazrie481jazrie481 - 765 replies53 threads Member
    It takes too much time. By the time you'd start working you'll probably be in your late 30s. I really want to either become a neurosurgeon or a cardiosurgeon, but many years of schooling and residency are quite intimidating. I'd rather step down to being a neurologist or cardiologist, but it doesn't seem as exciting as being a surgeon.
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  • JamiecakesJamiecakes 502 replies49 threads Member
    My neurosurgeon went to medical school-->Got his PhD-->Did a surgical residency-->then did a neurosurgery specialty residency -->then did a fellowship in skull base surgery. He went to Duke(89), Cornell med(97), Rockefeller PhD (97), San Francisco General and then neurosurgery (98-03), Brigham and Womens (04).

    So he graduated highschool around 1985 and was done and ready to practice neurosurgery in 2004 in his mid-thirties.
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  • blackbeastbombblackbeastbomb 34 replies4 threads Junior Member
    oh my goodness...19 years...
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  • blackbeastbombblackbeastbomb 34 replies4 threads Junior Member
    did he take any time off?
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  • JamiecakesJamiecakes 502 replies49 threads Member
    Nope, the dates are in parenthesis...no time off. When I had my surgery he was in surgery with me for 13.5 hours. Got out around 10pm, left, was back at the hospital to present my case to grand rounds and then see me in intensive care by 8:00 am.

    Tough life for him
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  • higginshiggins 169 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Neurosurgery will take 4 +4 + 7-9 years. At least 15 years from high school. Even then, you are not really a very good surgeon until you have a few years under your belt. It's a long slog and no shortcuts.
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  • BigredmedBigredmed 3726 replies26 threads Senior Member
    A neurosurg residency is 7 years. The only board certified fellowship currently available is endovascular NS, which is another year.

    A cardiology fellowship is 3 years but also requires 3 years of an Internal Medicine residency.
    If you want to become an electrophysiologist or interventional cardiologist, you have to tack on an extra year beyond the three years of cards and three years of IM...

    So 7 years or 8 years after graduating med school? Granted NS is the only specialty in which every single residency program has applied for and received an exemption to the 80 hour work week, and you will be taking call every second night (even if it is from home), but fellowship in cards is no cakewalk either...and the lifestyle of the interventional cardiologists isn't much different from the neurosurgeons.
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