Personal Qualities of a Neurosurgeon

Technology plays an  important role in the field of neurosurgery.
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Technology plays an  important role in the field of neurosurgery.

Neurosurgeons are some of the highest-earning specialists among physicians and surgeons, earning a median annual salary of $166,400 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you don't mind investing a decade or more in education and residency training, and have the right blend of personal qualities, you could be among the professionals moving into this surgical specialty.

Communication Skills

Neurology is a complex field of medicine that deals with conditions related to the brain, spine and nervous systems. Often, patients are referred to neurosurgeons when they are frustrated over physical and mental ailments that are hard to figure out and treat. The ability to listen effectively to the concerns of a patient in pain is critical in assessing problems and deciding on care. Neurosurgeons must articulate the treatments they recommend for patients who don't have a strong working knowledge of the central nervous system.

Cool Under Pressure

Neurosurgery is a category of surgery that is often quite risky. The brain and spine are among the more delicate parts of the human body and even a small mistake can lead to major complications for a patient. Additionally, neurosurgeons often spend time in emergency situations, operating on patients without any pre-planning. You need a cool demeanor for a couple reasons. One is to perform surgery accurately. The other is to avoid burnout that can come from a constant state of stress. Often, a sense of humor or good use of relaxation techniques can help in this area.

Caring and Compassionate

Patients commonly feel stress, pressure and emotional angst about neurological disorders. A neurosurgeon should have the ability to convey genuine caring and compassion for worried patients. This can help the patient and her family members feel more comfortable. Coinciding with compassion is a willingness to collaborate with other medical professionals to give a patient the best diagnosis and treatment options possible. If you are overly prideful or prefer to work autonomously, neurosurgery might not make the best fit for you.


Neurosurgery is one of the most perpetually evolving fields in medicine. Research studies conducted by leaders in the field reveal new procedures, diagnosis methods and technological advances all the time. A willingness to learn to adapt to professional developments and technology is especially useful in giving your patients the best care possible. In many cases, a neurosurgeon is a consultant who offers a patient alternatives for treatment and makes expert recommendations. Awareness of all available treatment and surgical options allows you to give patients more options.

2016 Salary Information for Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons earned a median annual salary of $204,950 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, physicians and surgeons earned a 25th percentile salary of $131,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $261,170, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 713,800 people were employed in the U.S. as physicians and surgeons.

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