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What does a Neurologist do?

Do the inner workings of the human mind fascinate you? Have you ever wondered how the brain works and controls all of our everyday functions? Do you want to work in the medical field? Then becoming a neurologist may be the career for you. Neurologists are doctors who specialize in treatment of the nervous system, mainly the brain and spinal cord.

neurologist

A mind for education

Like most jobs in the medical field, if you want to become a neurologist, the education will take several years to complete. It requires a four year pre-medical degree, a four year medical school degree resulting in a MD or DO. Then you follow that with a one-year internship in internal medicine or surgery, and finish off with a minimum of a three year neurology residency program (the length may vary by state). This educational training, certification and licensure are the main requirements for the job.

Perks to blow your mind

In addition to the perk of helping people, salary and benefits can be a great perk for a neurologist. You could make a very lucrative salary in a field that is growing faster than the average job in the market. If you run your own practice, you also have the ability to set your own hours. Or if you work for a hospital or another group, you can have the added perks of bonuses based on performance. You could also work in the education industry for medical universities. Working for another organization gives you back-up in your field and allows for you to take more time off, if wanted.

Advancing in the field

As a neurologist, there is still room to advance in the field. If you work with a group, you can move to a head or managerial role in your office. You can also move to a chair or upper administrative position at the hospital or university that you work for. You can teach residents and other physicians and work your way up with experience and additional training, always staying up to date on new policies and procedures.

A great work environment is a no-brainer

The environment you get to work in greatly depends on what company you work for or whether you go into business for yourself. You can work in your office with a small staff, or a larger office with a large staff. You can work in the education environment where your time is split between educating students and residents and seeing patients. You can work in well lit, sterile environments, and with equipment to perform tests such as a CAT scan, an MRI, an EEG, and an EMG/NCV, for your patients. This will give you access to tools that other physicians often do not, because they are set aside for your specialty.

What does a Neurosurgeon do?

Does the complexity of the brain fascinate you? Are you good with your hands? Do issues such as phantom pain interest you?

Neurosurgeons care for two of the most delicate and complex parts of the human body: the brain and the nervous system. The name neurosurgeon is slightly misleading as neurosurgeons do much more than just operate on the brain or spinal cord. They are also nonoperative caretakers of the nervous system and all of its surrounding blood supply. As such, they are critical to the health and well-being of the many people who have experienced brain injuries or have nervous system disorders.

Neurosurgeons most often work for a hospital or an outpatient surgery center, in a sterile and bright environment. You can expect to work long and odd hours, spending much of that time in surgery and on your feet.

neurosurgeon

You need to be alert, attentive, and ready to problem solve the entire time you’re working. You never know when a delicate surgery on a brain tumor may take an unexpected turn, or when a patient’s seizures may suddenly require surgical intervention.

Becoming a neurosurgeon: education and training

If you want to be a neurosurgeon, you need to have both a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree. Since both undergraduate school and medical school are four years long, you can expect to be in school for a total of eight years.

During med school, you will take classes and spend time in laboratories covering the basics, such as anatomy, biochemistry, and pharmacology to name a few, for the first two years. Your last two years will be spent rotating through different specialties to get experience working directly with patients, under a physician’s supervision. After med school, you will mostly likely spend between three and eight years doing internships and a residency. (A residency is basically a paid internship in your area of specialty.)

Note that med school is very difficult to get into, so you should work hard as an undergraduate so that your transcripts are excellent, take care to get good letters of recommendation, and study hard for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Before admission to med school, you can also expect to sit down for an interview with each school’s admissions committee so that you can be evaluated face to face.

Salary and career outlook

Medical school is demanding and expensive, but the job prognosis, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is very good.

As a neurosurgeon, you are part of a field that is seeing numerous advances in treatment options and many new ways to help people with serious and debilitating illness, thanks to technology.

What does a Radiation Therapist do?

A radiation therapist is the medical team member with a hospital’s cancer management team, who administers radiation therapy treatments to patients with cancer. Many radiation therapists specialize in providing routine diagnostic imaging examinations, however, and most of these radiation therapists specialize in a particular type of diagnostic imaging technique, such as mammography, magnetic resonance imaging, sonography or bone densitometry, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists states.

When administering radiation therapy to help cancer patients eliminate tumors, a radiation therapist uses X-Ray machines and CT scans to pinpoint the location of the tumor, and then uses a machine called a linear accelerator to administer treatment. Radiation therapists must accurately position their patients during these examinations and treatments, as well as keep detailed records of treatment plans. They must be excellent communicators, as they are in continual contact with patients during the length of their treatments, the Mayo Clinic reports.

radiation therapist

Education, licensure and advancement

Most positions require an associate or bachelor’s degree, or completion of a certificate program in radiation therapy, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. Radiation therapy programs typically are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

Coursework for radiation therapy programs includes study in radiation therapy procedures, anatomy, writing and public speaking–skills crucial to successful interaction with patients. Other coursework includes:

  • Methods of patient care
  • Record keeping
  • Radiobiology
  • Radiation physics
  • Ethics and law in radiation therapy

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) reports that there are 102 accredited radiation therapy programs in the U.S. Many states require radiation therapists to obtain licensure from the ARRT. Testing covers topics such as radiation protection, as well as proper treatment planning and delivery methods. Candidates also must prove their ability to successfully manage patient care practices and administer radiation.

Some radiation therapists advance their careers by becoming radiation oncologists and dosimetrists, technicians who calculate the dosage of radiation to be delivered during treatment. Others manage radiation therapy programs in treatment centers or hospitals, while some move into teaching, research and technical sales positions.

Job outlook and salary expectations

The opportunities for a radiation therapist is expected to grow exponentially, increasing 27 percent according to the BLS. Radiation therapists typically work at hospitals and in physicians offices. States with large populations–California, Florida, New York, Texas–employed the most radiation therapists. Wages were best in South Carolina, California and Washington. The top-paying metropolitan regions were Port St. Lucie, Florida, the Greater Seattle area and the Greater San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area of California.