Skills Needed in Order to Be a Neurosurgeon

Neurosurgery is often performed in emergency care settings.
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Neurosurgery hasn't been a big medical specialty draw among women historically. However, medical schools are increasingly encouraging women to consider neurosurgery, which includes surgeries on the brain, spine and nervous system. If you have a passion for intense and important surgery and the necessary skills, you can play a major role in critical health care. Plus, you can earn a lot of money. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual pay for all surgeons was $231,550 as of May 2011.

Patient Care

Patient care is the primary focus at hospitals, medical clinics and doctors offices. As a neurosurgeon, patient care means combining medical knowledge with a basic level of professionalism and interpersonal skills. Before you perform surgery on someone's brain, she wants to know that you can competently do the work. She also wants to feel comfortable that you care enough about her as a person to do it compassionately and thoroughly.

Excellent Communication

Communication skills are vital for neurosurgeons. You need to listen well to a patient to accurately diagnosis her condition. Then, you need to clearly explain treatment options and make a recommendation that shows your knowledge and expertise. Additionally, you must interact efficiently and clearly with surgical team members before and during surgery to make sure things go smoothly. When problems occur, you must be able to adjust quickly to address and correct them. Neurosurgeons routinely collaborate with other doctors in assessing and treating patients. Many also teach and train.

Physical Coordination and Precision

You need very strong physical skills to properly perform surgical procedures as a neurosurgeon. The Yale Medical Group website addresses these skills in describing surgeon Ketan R. Bulsara's extreme hand-eye coordination and physical control of his hands when he threaded a catheter less than 1 millimeter wide from the femoral artery in a patient's thigh into an aneurysm in his brain during an April 2011 surgery. This is one example of the intense precision of hand, equipment and tool movement necessary for neurosurgeons. Extreme nerves or unsteady hands mean you could easily nick a major nerve or part of the brain.


Neurosurgery is a fast-developing medical field. New technology and equipment has been introduced in the early 21st century, including robotic hands that surgeons manipulate for some types of surgeries. Additionally, computer-generated monitors offer greater visibility in delicate surgeries. Neurosurgeons must be able to adapt to new equipment, techniques and technologies. More critically, neurosurgeons must be open to alternative approaches that can improve surgical success and patient quality of life.

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