A neurosurgeon is specialist who deals with an array of stresses. Her work includes critical surgeries on patients' brains, spinal cords and nervous systems. She also often performs in emergency situations. The workload commonly exceeds 50 to 60 hours. Despite all of these challenges, you can find a number of rewards if you pursue a career in neurosurgery.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't publish specific information on neurosurgeons as a specialty type of surgeon. However, it does indicate that the median annual income for all physicians and surgeons was $166,400 in 2010. Neurosurgeons are near the top of the list of medical professional earners because of high demand, with growth projected at 24.4 percent from 2012 to 2022. Much of the demand, according to the bureau, is in rural and lower-income areas.
On the other side of a stressful surgical experience is a high degree of personal satisfaction in knowing that you have helped someone. A neurosurgeon's efforts often impact the quality of life, or even save the life, of patients. Neurosurgeons often help first by diagnosing a patient's condition and offering recommended care alternatives. Surgery may be a last course of action, if other, less intrusive options for rehabilitation exist. If surgery is necessary, success if often the best reward. Family members of patients may offer brief a "thank you," but their attention is usually more focused on the patient, so your personal sense of achievement is gratifying.
In an April 2009 exploration of the neurosurgery field, trainee Jonathan R. Ellenbogen of the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Liverpool, England, highlighted the rapid development in neurological technology and procedures in the early 21st century. This gives research-minded neurosurgeons opportunities to help push the field of neurology forward. Many do so by getting involved in research and teaching as part-time professors. Additionally, Ellenbogen indicated that discussions have taken place in education to encourage more women to get into this field of surgery that has historically been male-oriented.
Relative to other medical specialties, neurosurgery offers doctors a wide array of patients, diseases and conditions, according to Ellenbogen. For an aspiring doctor who prefers a surgical arena that is variable and mentally challenging, neurosurgery is a good fit. Diagnosis is often complex and interesting given the need to consider physical evidence from MRIs and other lab tests, patient history and responses to questions and appearance of any physical symptoms. Neurosurgeons commonly train residents and use unique cases as teaching opportunities.
- CNN Money: 2012 Best Jobs in America: 63. Neurosurgeons
- BMJ Careers: A Career in Neurosurgery
- Natina Health Service Careers: Neurosurgery
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physicians and Surgeons
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Physicians and Surgeons Do
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.