A neurologist is a physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 who specializes in neurology
Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue,...

, and is trained to investigate, or diagnose and treat neurological disorders.

Neurology is the medical specialty related to the human nervous system. The nervous system encompasses the brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

, spinal cord
Spinal cord
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain . The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system...

, and peripheral nerves. A specialist physician who treats patients suffering from neurological disease is called a neurologist. Related yet distinct fields of medicine include: psychiatry
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders. These mental disorders include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities...

, neurosurgery
Neurosurgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of disorders which affect any portion of the nervous system including the brain, spine, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and extra-cranial cerebrovascular system.-In the United States:In...

 and their subspecialties.


Neurologists examine patients who have been referred to them by other physicians in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. A neurologist will begin their interaction with a patient by taking a comprehensive medical history, and then perform a physical examination focusing on evaluating the nervous system. Components of the neurological examination include assessment of the patient's cognitive function, cranial nerves, motor strength, sensation, reflexes, coordination, and gait.

In some instances, neurologists may order additional diagnostic tests as part of the evaluation. Commonly employed tests in neurology include imaging studies such as computed axial tomography (CAT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound of major blood vessels of the head and neck. Neurophysiologic studies, including electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and evoked potentials are also commonly ordered. Neurologists frequently perform lumbar punctures in order to assess characteristics of a patient's cerebrospinal fluid.

Some of the commonly encountered conditions treated by neurologists include headaches, radiculopathy, neuropathy, stroke, dementia, seizures and epilepsy, Parkinson's Disease, multiple sclerosis, head trauma, sleep disorders, neuromuscular diseases, and various infections and tumors of the nervous system.

Treatment options vary depending on the neurological problem. They can include everything from referring the patient to a physiotherapist, to prescribing medications, to recommending a surgical procedure.

Some neurologists specialize in certain parts of the nervous system or in specific procedures. For example, clinical neurophysiologists specialize in the use of electrodiagnostic techniques (EEG and EMG) in order to diagnose certain neurological disorders. Neurosurgery is a distinct specialty which involves a different training path, and emphasizes the surgical treatment of neurological disorders.

There are also many non-medical doctors, those with PhDs in subjects such as biology and chemistry, who study and research the nervous system. Working in labs in universities, hospitals, and private companies, these neuroscientists perform clinical and laboratory experiments and tests in order to learn more about the nervous system and find cures or new treatments for diseases and disorders.

There is a great deal of overlap between neuroscience
Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics,...

 and neurology. A large number of neurologists work in academic training hospitals, where they conduct research as neuroscientists in addition to treating patients and teaching neurology to medical student
Medical Student
Medical Student may refer to:*Someone studying at medical school*Medical Student Newspaper, a UK publication...


Working Conditions

Neurologists often spend part of their day in their office, interviewing and examining patients, and then spend another part of the day visiting other patients in the hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

 and reviewing their progress. They also spend time meeting with doctors who have referred patients to them, discussing the patients' progress.

Most neurologists and neuroscientists are employed full-time, working a 5-day, 40 to 50-hour week. However, this number can vary considerably, depending on experience and the type of position held. Many doctors may be expected to work more hours each week, especially at the beginning of their careers. It is not uncommon for a doctor to put in more than 60 hours a week.

Neurologists who work in hospitals usually have to work evening and weekend shifts to meet the needs of their patients. Doctors are also often "on-call" at times when they are not at work. This means that they can be called in at any time, day or night, to attend to emergencies. On-call activities can add several hours to a neurologist's workweek.

While neurology is not physically demanding work, there can be a great deal of stress involved. This is especially true if neurologists are working with patients who are extremely sick, or even terminally ill.

Education and Training

Persons who are interested in becoming a neurologist must first attend medical school
Medical school
A medical school is a tertiary educational institution—or part of such an institution—that teaches medicine. Degree programs offered at medical schools often include Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Bachelor/Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, master's degree, or other post-secondary...

. Good grades in high school and university are generally required, as well as taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) if one is to pursue a Doctor of Medicine degree. Medical school matriculants generally hold at minimum a bachelor's degree. Medical school provides a general medical education and grants students a Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine is a doctoral degree for physicians. The degree is granted by medical schools...

 (MD), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is a professional doctoral degree for physicians in the United States. Holders of the MD degree, Doctor of Medicine, have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as osteopathic physicians in the United States.The American Osteopathic Association’s Commission...

 (DO), or Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS, MBChB) upon successful completion. Graduating medical students then elect a post-graduate or residency program in neurology or pediatrics or one year of internal medicine. Residents in either pediatrics or internal medicine must then enroll into neurology fellowships such as pediatric neurology, or general neurology. Neurologists may chose from a variety of subspecialties.

Neurology residency consists of practical, on-the-job training, in hospitals or other medical settings. The training program provides residents with specific training as a neurologist, and usually takes about four years to complete. In the United States, the first of these four years consists of either a transitional or internal medicine internship, which includes broad exposure to general adult medicine. The second through fourth postgraduate years are spent in a devoted neurology residency, after which time the successful graduate can apply for licensure. After residency, graduates may choose to pursue board certification through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Some neurologists will complete voluntary, additional training in a fellowship program in order to gain experience in a subspecialty area.

Persons wishing to become a non-medical neuroscientist must first complete a bachelor's degree in neuroscience or a related discipline. The next step is to obtain a master's degree in neuroscience (2 years to complete) and then a PhD (at least 4 years). While there may be research positions available to those with a master's degree, a PhD is generally required to become a university professor or a senior research scientist.

See also

World Congress of Neurology Where neurologists discover scientific achievements and interact with delegates of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to find real solutions to improve the long-term outcomes for patients with neurological disorders.
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