What do you do for a living?
I’m a neurosurgeon.
How would you describe what you do?
Neurosurgery is a specialty that involves the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and their supporting and surrounding structures.
What does your work entail as a neurosurgeon?
Three days a week I operate on the brain, the spine, or peripheral nerves. Two days a week I’m in the office seeing patients. I also teach medical students and I give lectures to residents.
How did you get started?
I became interested in medicine because I had a brain tumor when I was nine months old, so I was around a lot of doctors. I also watched the Donna Reed Show where Donna Reed’s husband was a pediatrician and I thought he had a nice life. And that’s the truth.
What do you like about what you do?
I help a lot of people. They come back to me and they say, “Thank you for helping me. I feel much better.” “Thank you for helping me. My pain is gone.” “Thank you for taking out my brain tumor.”
[The misconception is]That you have to be really smart to be a brain surgeon. I know a lot of people who are not smart, who are just hard workers and got through their residency. So, I think the joke, Well, hey, it’s not brain surgery isn’t necessarily accurate. I think it’s something that takes years to learn and it takes a lot of studying…But I don’t think that you have to be really smart.
I have four partners in my group who get along great. I can make my own schedule. I don’t have to work as hard if I don’t want to. One of my partners is much younger and has four younger kids, and he’s able to work less. We’re able to, in a sense, set our own schedules.
What do you dislike?
I dislike dealing with insurance companies who either deny payment for legitimate claims or delay payment for legitimate claims. In Pennsylvania they pay less for certain procedures than the same Blue Cross/Blue Shield company would pay for another city three hours away, like Cleveland or Columbus, which are comparable sized cities to Pittsburgh. The pay is between 50% and 100% higher in Columbus or Cleveland than it is in Pittsburgh. And that’s because Blue Cross/Blue Shield has the overwhelming majority of contracts in Pennsylvania, or at least in Western Pennsylvania, whereas in Ohio, there are lots of competing insurance companies.
How do you make money or how are you compensated?
I get paid for surgery. Of course, different people’s insurance pay different amounts. Medical assistance pays less. Medicare pays a little bit more. Private commercial insurance like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Health America, United, Aetna pays a little bit more, but pretty much everything is based on Medicare.
I would recommend neurosurgery. Nationally there is a big shortage of neurosurgeons now and there will continue to be a shortage of neurosurgeons for at least the next 20 years. The number of training programs has not increased in the last 15 years and more and more neurosurgeons are retiring earlier because of high medical malpractice costs and because of the stress of the profession. So, the number of neurosurgeons now, in the year 2007, is the same as the number of neurosurgeons in 1991, yet the population of the United States has obviously grown by a third since 1991. So, neurosurgeons are busier than ever…
One insurance company will be 116% of Medicare, another insurance company will be 111% of Medicare, so everything is a multiplier of Medicare. So, it makes you a little uncomfortable that the federal government, which sets Medicare reimbursement rates, really is setting the reimbursement rates for everybody else.
How much does a neurosurgeon make?
It depends. Neurosurgeon salary can be anywhere from $400,000 to over a million. It’s really a function of how hard you work and how your practice is set up.
How much money do you make as a neurosurgeon?
What education or skills are needed to become a neurosurgeon?
Four years of medical school, a year of internship, and then neurosurgical residency is an additional six years. So, my training was seven years after medical school.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Micro-brain surgery done under the microscope for aneurysms or certain deep tumors. Uses of computers for a lot of surgery is standard now, so I think using a computer for brain surgery and using a microscope for brain surgery are the most challenging aspects of the job.
What is most rewarding?
Personally, I think just having the patients come back and say, Thank you for helping me. I have a wall full of thank you notes. A lot of people thank me, but when somebody actually sends me a thank you card, I put it up on my wall. And after 20 years, my wall is pretty much full with thank you cards.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
The entry into medical school is pretty much now the same as it was 20 years ago. You need about a 3.6 GPA and you need to have reasonably good medical MCATs, Medical College Admission Test scores. And then once you get into medical school, then you can decide on any medical or surgical specialty. And you rotate through the different specialties and you see what you like or which professor inspires you. But you have to want to work hard because residency is hard, but even when you go into practice, a normal work day is 10 to 12 hours a day, and there’s always some night and weekend call. I have four partners, so I’m on call every fifth night and every fifth weekend, which doesn’t mean I operate at all those times. It means I have to handle phone calls and emergencies. So, a lot of hard work and good grades in college and to get into medical school.
How much time off do you get/take?
Well, we have requirements for continuing medical education. So, we have to go to approximately two meetings a year and those are usually in nice places. I’m going to San Diego in three weeks. I just came back from Washington D.C. in the spring. So, you get sort of a chance to go on a nice vacation to a nice place for a meeting. And then usually the amount of time you take off, other than the meetings, is about four weeks a year.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That you have to be really smart to be a brain surgeon. I know a lot of people who are not smart, who are just hard workers and got through their residency. So, I think the joke, “Well, hey, it’s not brain surgery” is an understatement. I think it’s something that takes a lot of years to learn and it takes a lot of studying, and you have to keep up with your field, you know, read two or three journals a month, take your courses, go to the meetings go to continuing medical education things. But I don’t really think that you have to be really smart. I mean, I know a lot really smart neurosurgeons but I also know a lot of neurosurgeons who are not real smart. I mean they’re not geniuses.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I’d like to, at some point, stop operating and just teach residents full-time. I’d like to be able to do more laboratory research, which is hard to do unless you’re doing it full-time. I did laboratory research for a year and a half during my residency and if you’re doing it full-time, you can do it. But to do research in a laboratory when you’re actually practicing neurosurgery is essentially impossible. So, I’d like to be able to teach residents full-time because I think that’s very satisfying and do some clinical research.
What else would you like people to know about what you do?
I would recommend neurosurgery. Nationally there is a big shortage of neurosurgeons now and there will continue to be a shortage of neurosurgeons for at least the next 20 years. The number of training programs has not increased in the last 15 years and more and more neurosurgeons are retiring earlier because of high medical malpractice costs and because of the stress of the profession. It’s a stressful profession. So, you have 98 residency programs graduating 136 residents a year and there are about 150 neurosurgeons leaving practice each year because of health or retirement or what-have-you. So, the number of neurosurgeons now, in the year 2007, is the same as the number of neurosurgeons in 1991, yet the population of the United States has obviously grown by a third since 1991. So, neurosurgeons are busier than ever because the population is growing and the number of neurosurgeons has remained just about the same as it was almost 15 years ago.
Hello, my name is Daisy and I wanted to know if I could ask a neurosurgeon some questions for an academic research project that I am composing. I am a freshman at Stanislaus State University and I am looking forward to becoming a neurosurgeon.
1. What are some skills that I should obtain? Why?
2. How long was your educational process?
3. What were some courses that you took?
4. Did you look into any internships? Any recommendations?
5. What is a procedure that you have perfected? What has been your most traumatic case?
6. What did you expect/not expect when going into the job?
7. What have you overcome in these years while on the job?
8. Why did you choose this profession?
9. How did you prepare? Any big changes to your routine?
10. What does your average day look like?
11. What brings you back to your job every day?
12. How do you feel when you lose a patient? What narrative did you develop to stay sane?
I have really been inspired and motivated by this wonderful inspirational speech. I wish to become a neurosurgeon. I am really working towards it.
My name is Rohan and I want to become a neurosurgeon one day. I just had a question about your chances of actually becoming one. I know that once you complete medical school, there is a 70%-80% chance that you will be accepted into a neurosurgery residency program. However, I was wondering the chance (in % or fraction) of becoming a neurosurgeon after completing the residency. I have previously read from a source that 2 out of 175 neurosurgery residents become a neurosurgeon. I forgot the name of the site, but I hope I read that information incorrectly lol. It just seems absurd that you have a .013% chance of actually become a neurosurgeon after the residency for it. I am sure that that is incorrect or false information. So, can someone please tell me an accurate percent chance of becoming a neurosurgeon after the 6-year residency is completed.
I’m a 25-year-old pre-med student in Illinois. When I was 17, I dropped out of high-school mid-way through my senior year. As of now, I’ve been to three different universities. I started out studying mechanical engineering, switched to business administration, and am now preparing to study medicine.
For those of you who are still in high school, or not yet even in high school, this is for you. First off, congratulations for having the drive and determination to pick an extremely difficult career early on. However, you are young. And please understand, in no way does that make you any less capable or any less willing to do what it takes to be a Neurosurgeon. Being young is a gift. You still have many years to decide exactly what it is you want to do. Since I left high school, I’ve changed my mind over and over, because, as you go through college, you’ll find different things that interest you, things you never imagined being interested in.
So, my suggestion to you is, keep an open mind. While you’re in high-school, focus on doing your best in high-school. Focus on grades of course, but also focus on getting the ENTIRE high school experience. Take part in different activities and try different things. After high school, consider if MEDICINE is what you want to go into. Not necessarily Neurosugery, but medicine itself. If it is, and you are certain that it’s the path for you, then focus on getting your bachelors degree, preparing for the MCAT, and preparing yourself through both courses and extracurricular activities that will aid you when you apply for medical school.
After you’ve been accepted to medical school, that’s the time to start ironing out your specialty. Keep an open mind as you learn about different specialties and different paths you can take. Medical school, internship and residency are the times to decide what you want to specialize in. Trust me, you’ll be a completely different person by that point in your life. Your desires and interests will have changed. I’m not saying you wont be a neurosurgeon, but pace yourself and make the most of the time between now and when you have to make that decision.
Just some advice from someone who’s watched this happen in his own life, and the lives of the people around me. Good luck!
Hi, Im a 20 year old who has not been, but planning on going to university by re-doing my matric ( because i screwed around and took the wrong subjects) so that i may hopefully get into Med School and see where i go from there, and would just like to thank you for your kind advice and insight so..
I needed that.
Hello my name is Christain, I am really inspired by your write up. I really wanna become a neurosurgeon, I love this filed though I know it takes commitment and your best to do this. Currently I am studying Microbiology here in Nigeria though can’t wait to enter into medical school to get my MBBS. I will be so pleased if I am oppturned to speak with someone with same zeal and aspirations and if possible a neurosurgeon.. My mail: [email protected]
Hello, My name is Jordan and I am an 18 year old college freshman at the University of San Francisco. I am currently a biology major, and have the intent of going to medical school to become a neurosurgeon. This article has made such a surprising impact on me. Neurosurgery, in comparison to other specialties has always called to me and I have always gravitated to it. Taking all these general courses (gen bio and gen chemistry) its easy to forget what the end goal is, and this article has rekindled the motivation I had lost for some time.
I have been so inspired by this post and the people who have replied. There is still a long road ahead of me but at least we are all working towards it everyday. It is daunting to think at times that I can really become a surgeon. Sometimes I think: who am I kidding? how can I, out of all people, be a doctor? But, i have learned to trust the process and to see it through. Neurosurgery is just something I can see myself doing forever. It is not even about the money at the end of the day, its the sense of fulfillment I picture when I envision myself becoming and being one.
To anyone who feels discouraged: I never even thought I would be in college to begin with, and I have had immense moments of doubt s(i still do to this day). If I can do it, you can. There are no excuses. Behind your feelings there is nothing, but behind every principle there is a promise.
I do not even know if anyone is still reading this post in 2017, but if you are just know that you can do it!
i am 25year old i has finish my medical laboratory technician. i have apply to study MBBS in one of university in USA and i wot to be a ueurosurgony . i wot help and remove someone pain . and bring somebody to is normal life stage i well be happy if i do it
Hi! I’m Billy. Right before I went into 6th grade (2 years ago) I have wanted to become a neurosurgeon. I currently play 4 musical instruments and I would like to continue to keep being able to play them all during my career. I was wondering if I would be able to continue to play them and have enough time to be a neurosurgeon.
I am a UCLA trained physician, and have been a supportive partner to a neurosurgeon, whom I met when we were both in our second year of residency. In the past 21 years since we met, I have watched my neurosurgeon partner been ‘eaten up’ by the profession…the stress and continuous onslaught of pressure by several areas
(administrative requirements, lack of compensation, lack of adequate paraprofessional support, unvalidated malpractice claims that were ultimately dismissed, but required significant financial and time commitments). The stressors ultimately led to our separation, three years after our first child was born.
It is refreshing to hear of a neurosurgeon’s positive experience and perspective on their profession. It seems to me, no matter how difficult, that having the skills and talents to help someone with neurosurgical problems is rewarding, and ultimately a privilege, inspire of the inherent stressors therein.
Many thanks for your perspective on your extraordinary profession!
I suppose i just think the brain is interesting in itself that why i’d like to become a neurosurgeon. I have this class at school called ap capstone its a research and writing class and i did a report on amnesia and found out alot about henry molaison i dunno it was inspiring to read about him. I wrote this report when i was having a hard time at school due to stress and reading a bunch of scientific journals made me want to learn more. I guess what i’d like to know is that how can i become a neurosurgeon should i try for a combined medical program with a bachelors degree or study aboard and go straight to medical school. My choice to be a neurosurgeon was relatively recent up until that point i was planning to be a lawyer, i’m 16 so a suppose i don’t know what i should do. Anyway if anyone bother to read this comment thank you very much i really want to try becoming a neurosurgeon and plan on taking AP chem and Bio next year at my school to see if medicine would be a good fit. So far it seems like it would fit me in general a lot better than law. Thanks again for reading this coment :).
Wow Vera that is very interesting. I also am interested in both Law and NeuroSurgery. I also am in the AP program so i was also thinking along the same lines as you. I was thinking of taking AP Bio and Chem and Law course in my school academic. I’ve heard the job itself is stressful i mean you finish at around 30 so you will be behind all your friends in forms of money but you rebound. I was gold being a Surgeon is stressful and it’s hard to start a family but i’m not too sure about that. Best of Luck to you Vera and yes there are people out here who read your comments. From a 16 year old to another best of luck and maybe one day ill get to meet a Dr Vera haha. Have a good day.
Hi so I’m 14 and I’ve had an interest in neurosurgery for a while now, because it’s just so fascinating to me. Being able to help someone on a level that is just unimaginable. I have an A in Math and Science, so I’m doing ok. I’m going into high school next year and taking honors English, but then the next year I would love to take honors anatomy for the following years. Hopefully it all works out with all the school for it. 16 more years, that’s just a crazy amount of time, but rewarding. By the time I would graduate for redidency I would be 34…. And that’s 30-45 years until retirement, so it is a nice job if you think about the time.
I’m 15 years old currently living in Washington State. Since I was in the sixth grade I’ve wanted to be a neurosurgeon. Cardiothoracic surgery and trauma surgery also interest me..I get good grades, I have an average GPA of 4.0 and I recently scored in the top 3% of the nation on my PLTW Principle of Biomedical Sciences final. I watch a surgery recap almost every other night (approx. 40:00 minutes long) things like Subdural Hematoma hemorrhage, tumor removals, awake surgeries, etc. I volunteer at Deaconess Hospital every week on the neuro floor (shoutout to 9 tower) and it’s really been helping me get the exposure I need. I aspire to attend the University of Washington and also their medical school, applying for the HPSP scholarship, where I will serve in the military as a doctor (for tuition reimbursement and malpractice insurance coverage) I’m a big planner, I like to figure things out ahead of time, but am also good thinking on my feet, in the moment. Anyway, thank you very much, this has inspired me even more. I know that one day all the hard work will pay off, there really is no better job in the world, than saving a life, giving someone that much deserved time. Thank you.
Hi, Im a 3rd year Medical student from South Africa and would like to pursue Neurosurgery after medical school. I was greatly inspired by the Benjamin Carson Story, since the very day I watched Gifted Hands I have wanted to become a neuro. That was even before I found out about the salary, which left me speechless. I love helping people and I would not mind at all, living my life helping people. My biggest worry or concern rather, I would really love to have a family of my own… Is it that impossible to spend time with your loved ones?
Hi. I want to pursue this career and i’m from South-Africa aswell. Just wanted to get information from you on where you are studying and how you plan to continue in this direction. Please get back to me.
Hello, My name is Angelica and I am really looking forward to becoming a neurosurgeon. I am currently in college doing my B.S. in biomedical sciences. It is very challenging but at the same time rewarding. I saw some posts where there are 15, 16, even 35 year old people who are aspiring to becoming a neurosurgeon. Keep on!! Never give up no matter what! It takes guts and hard work and determination to becoming a neurosurgeon. It is a very competitive field but at the same time very rewarding. If you have the will to become a hardworking neurosurgeon, then keep on going!
I love how Mos pointed out the most important thing in succeeding in this field of work and especially life on earth…keeping a great relationship with God. I tell you all, if it wasn’t for God, I probably would not be where I am at today. I have had a lot of tough and grueling situations growing up, and it is still pretty difficult for me til this day with college especially. My main goal is to do what God has purposed for me to do; and that is helping others. I currently work in a great field of helping others, but this is not my ultimate goal, career wise. I believe through God’s help, my dedication and will I can help a whole lot more on this earth by becoming a neurosurgeon.
The road to this work is very difficult, but you have to have the aspiration and dedication and determination to strive and keep on striving in order to become a neurosurgeon. A gentleman at my church keeps letting me know that success means to start something and continue that thing to the finish point. With anything you want to succeed at, you need to first start it and then, no matter how many speed bumps (whether big or small) come your way, you need to put all that you have to finish it. I believe that the best way to succeed in this life is to acquire the help from the Most Knowledgeable of this world…and that, to me, is the one and only God!
I pray that we all succeed in our journeys in becoming successful neurosurgeons!
I am 16 years old willing to one day become a great neurosurgeon. Thus interview inspired me to never give up on anything I want to do or be. No matter what other people say you are the one that makes your own path through life and to your future . I believe that one day I’ll be able to help other people with the skills and abilities that I acquire through my dream’s career. And I also would like to see that the same career that provides me money provides happiness to other people and to me by knowing I have helped someone. YOU ARE NEVER A LOSER UNTIL YOU QUIT TRYING
I am 35 years old, with a constant nudge of wanting to fulfill my life long dream of doing neurosurgery. I know its possible and I dont doubt anymore about my abilities to accomplish this. From I was child, I always dreamed of doing surgery on the brain. All my life I was told that I will never be anything, hence why I stopped believing. Do you have any wise and encouraging words to offer?
I am currently a medical school.and I love education more than anything! And I dont think medical school or other field of study is difficult to handle. In this earth we,homo sapiance spieces, make it difficult by the way of our life style.WE are extremely dipendent in peoples or things but that is a terreble way of life. The most important thing is to maintain your relation with GOD and GOD only. I am very afraid to thoes who donot bleave in GOD. I am cristian. And I am currently reaserching in brain carisinomas. I am very optmistic on the cure for brain tumors and I want to see those patients who have lost hope to smile, it always make me cry of those patients to die from canser. And I love Neurosurgery and oncology at the same level. And last I truly admire and love all the people around the world who give thier lives to help other, and the true doctors are the main one. Please don’t inform those young bloods that medicine is difficult rather you should tell them that medicine is the most intererting field that can make an individual a humble person and only asks reading about a human bieng and willing to help others. “I COULDNOT IMAGINE OTHER THAN MEDICINE” this should be the moto for every body who want to be doctor. And very attractive article full of hope. THANK YOU.
I am so glad to see that you have found your vocation and your calling and that you are realizing your dream. I am sure you will go very far in the field of medicine.
You do not need to be “afraid of those who do not believe in god.” There is a great concentration of brilliant agnostics and talented atheists in the natural sciences and in medicine and hopefully you will find, when you meet these people, that there is nothing to be scared about.
Medicine is about dedicating yourself to the lives and health of those around you, to work hard to minimize the pain, suffering and loss of others around you, regardless of their race, creed, ethnicity, religion or lack thereof, language, tradition, sexuality, lifestyle or nationality.
Medicine is the one way to serve others irrespective of all of those false barriers and it is a great privilege to be trusted as someone’s physician. Politicians of all parties, kings, rockstars, rabbis, priests, illegitimate children and their imperfect parents, prostitutes, the homeless, thieves… and even atheists… they can all be your patients and you must respect their basic human dignity and vulnerability as they will respect the privileged status they choose to bestow upon you.
So keep an open mind about people’s private right to choose whether to worship any god they choose or not to at all for this doesn’t change their biology nor their vulnerability to disease. Instead, focus on helping them lead whatever lives they choose for themselves by keeping them free of disease, injury, and suffering.
Best of luck in your career.
I’m 15 and I would love to become a neurosurgeon someday. Just helping a save someones life would be very rewarding. But the type of person I am and grades I have in school , many people even my counselor believe and said I cannot achieve nor handle this career. Just the way of helping people and the constant learning seems like an amazing opportunity. But sadly my math is poor and science is just a C+ . I would love to believe that we do not have to be geniuses for this career. From now on I will try my best to do amazing in school but it’s just people’s comments and thoughts about my choice in career really lowers my confidence. Since no one believes I can achieve such career as this.
I’m 14, and I can say I am not a student that gets 80% and 90% everywhere. But as long as you work hard, you can make your dream come true. 🙂 Just stay focused in school. I always tell myself ” it’s fine, I can do this. It’s only 16 more years and after that it’s over”. So Maria, don’t let others put you down. I know the feeling, my mom thinks I can’t become a neurosurgeon, but that doesn’t put me down because I always answer her with “You’ll see mom.” I challenge myself and push myself to get higher grades. Anyways, I hope I helped you.
Hope you will achieve your dreams! Keep being motivated! There’re so many people out there that they are doing the same thing as you. Prove the naysayers wrong by being an excellent neurosurgeon!
Keep going! I think math is very important, so over the summer get a tutor, or study by yourself. Girl neurosurgeons are quite rare, so all of the odds are in your favor! Also, i hope you enjoy school, cause your going to be in it for a very long time! XD
Don’t feel down!! I have a C in math and want to become a neurosurgeon just as much as you do! I always feel inspired and want to help people also, but at the same time enjoy learning. Don’t let people put you down!! Just work hard!
I have worked hard to maintain at least a 3.8 GPA since sixth grade because I knew no matter what I would do in my future I wanted to make a difference. I also knew that the only way to succeed Is to work hard because success is just not handed to you. Since I was younger the medical field has intrigued me immensely. I am seventeen years old currently and know I want to be surgeon; specifically a neurosurgeon. I have volunteered at hospitals over the summer and talked with other successful neurosurgeons in my area. The has always interested me with its power it has over everything. One thing controls your movement, thought process, or rather your life. Being able to make someone’s life easier, more accessible, and happier is my dream. That something as measly as my hands and my knowledge can change someone for the better is just an amazing thing. That is one of the most beautiful things in life.
im only 12 and this has made an impact on my life from i was in grade four iv always wanted to be a neurosurgeon this has really motivated me to fulfill my dream think you so much
Go for it, young man!
My youngest son, now 35, completed his residency two years ago, and now
practices in Zurich, Switzerland, but has contracts with various European
health systems. There is a huge shortage of neurosurgeons; my son only
specializes in brain surgery, which is most in demand. He earns well in
excess of US$2 million a year. It’s a long hard road, but well worth it
if that is your desire. Good luck, my boy!
I am shocked to learn about your son’s salary. My husband is completing his residency in Germany. The average salaries here are 120,000 euros and from what we know, it’s the same give or take around Europe. What is he doing differently?
That’s one minor downside of studying medicine. Doctors don’t get payed much when in residency, but after residency the salary is quite high.
really inspiring. i am also about to enter medical school and i really hope to be a neurosurgeon after my four years. thank you for your words. unfortunately i do not have a thank you card for you to stick on your wall
Wow that is so great! My name is reem Eyob n am 16 yrs old. I live in Ethiopia and I read a lot about this kinda things and I get inspired more and more. I want to be a brain surgeon too
I would consider this career if I didn’t have hypotension, I wouldn’t want to risk anyone’s life because I got dizzy or passed out. I’m really happy to see that people so young want to and can do it, to all those individuals, thank you. God bless you in your lives and careers, you won’t regret it once you begin receiving the thank you notes and cards.
-a 16 year old
its really nice to read all the inspiring comments, im 15 and am currently in year 11 in england and im not sure if i should take my parent’s offer and go to america and study until i finish high school there and go into a medical school, i am really interested in medicine and only average when it comes to exams but i really enjoy learning things relating to biology especially the brain, im also looking at other options but still undecided if i should stay in england or not, it would be nice to hear some advice……….>.<……
I can relate to several of the factors you are facing at this time in your education, in a round-about way. Although I am from Mexico immigrated to New York where I did middle school, high school and completed a university degree in Biology. Then I made the decision to study medicine abroad (at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland). After graduation I stayed in Dublin working for 7 years and then did a fellowship in London… and I then returned to the U.S. to be near my relatives.
As you can see, I’ve crossed many of the bridges you might choose to cross, albeit in a different order! So this is what I can tell you about that:
At your stage focus on enjoying the sciences and working hard in every subject. Every point you can get to optimize your graduating numbers is an excellent investment. At the same time do not neglect the development of your other facets such as sports, arts, and community service. Universities on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly seeking people who are well-rounded, interested in their world and in serving in a constructive way. No matter whether you are interested in medicine, biology or any other scientific field, you will need to work very hard so try to figure out what you feel a passion for, what you are able to do hours on end because you love it. That should give you a clue as to what you are cut out to do.
If you are offered the opportunity to study “college” (university) in the U.S. then consider it because it can be fantastic. The key is to do the necessary research and apply to the very best ones you might have a shot at. Unfortunately for the U.S. high school education standards are not the best. American university standards are significantly higher, especially when looking at highly competitive institutions (and Ivy League of course).
As to whether you should move while still in high school or not may be a bit technical: Once you have a university or two you are excited you should find out if your odds to get in are higher as a foreign student, a U.S. resident, or a state resident (if you can attend a high school with the same state). If there isn’t a clear advantage, and you are attending a reasonable U.K. high school then you might as well stay put for now, nail the SAT exams, tidily finish high school there and come to the U.S. for college.
In terms of your academic interests, you don’t need to worry about figuring out too much too soon but start pondering in a relaxed manner the following points:
1) Do you enjoy dealing with people, hearing their problems, and do you usually drop everything to help somebody?
2) Do you prefer to be left alone to get real work done in isolation? Is it a hassle to try to “figure people out” when working with others as part of a team?
3) Do you have a “type A” personality where you are always doing something, you are competitive and overall somewhat tightly wound?
4) Do you enjoy the challenge of dealing with multiple urgent problems rapidly and often simultaneously or do you prefer to methodically delve into *one* single problem at a time, without a rush and dig deep to find an answer that has evaded others?
5) Do you enjoy working with your hands to build things or do you lean towards more mental puzzles and problems?
These are just a few thinking points to get you started on figuring out your *vocation.* You need to start exploring small scale versions or what it might be like to deal with emergencies, have responsibilities, do research, deal with sick people, e tc. The best and most fun way to do so is to volunteer at a hospital, do summer research in high school or a local university, get involved in community projects, get certified as a lifeguard or emergency medical technician or volunteer as a fire fighter (which is common in the U.S.). These experiences will, more likely than not, rule things out. That is, if you can’t stand the smell and the look of sick people while volunteering then you can confidently say that medicine isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you are intrigued and moved by seeing someone suffer and you see it as a challenge (“There has GOT to be a way SOMEBODY can help this poor woman in pain!”) Then medical sciences may be for you. Likewise with dealing with emergencies, blood, crazy shifts, people’s problems, etc.
The key to all of this (as I have said in my previous posts) is to “KNOW THYSELF.”
Best of luck Jona and I look forward to reading your future thoughts.
My son, a neurosurgeon, went to Uni, medical school and served his residency
in the UK. Do NOT go to America, please! The UK has far more excellent schools
than in the US. As a boy of 13, my son went to school in the US and I was
informed that he would amount to nothing at all. I sent him to school in the
UK, where standards are so far above US standards. My son now lives and
practices in Switzerland, where he attended high school when younger.
America is a land of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to be successful, don’t hate on America just because your son didn’t reach the level of success he probably hoped for there are plenty of successful people who came to America and indeed fulfilled their dream. And for anyone else out there who doesn’t believe they can do something to move forward with their goals, take a leap of faith and move forward don’t let negative people or surroundings put you down. BE GREAT!
Thank you so much!
I am 16 and AS EVERYONE KNOW it is my turning point now ..I would like to be a neurosurgeon oneday.your advices are something much special for me….thanks alot again 😀
Thank you so much for this information. I am a 14 year old girl, and I am interested in becoming a neurosurgeon in the future. I had many doubts, but you helped me to clear them up. So once again, thank you very much.
Hello Victor , I am 13 and have a dream Of becoming a neurosurgeon . I am Scared that i wont be able to do so . As it requires lot of studies . Can you help me out by saying or gving a concept map of how to enter neurosurgery? I t would be a great pleasure . Thank You
Victor Pena I have read all your comments and they are just great. Can’t tell how your words touched my heart and that’s why I have decided to take your humble advice on choosing the right profession for me. I’m confused between MEDICINE and DENTISTRY. I like both of them but sometimes my interest builds up more in dentistry and sometimes more in medicine. To be more honest, I don’t like either of the field as a whole, instead I like some sub-specialties for example in medicine I like oncology but I hate gynecology similarly in dentistry I like orthodontics very much but on the other hand I don’t like prosthodontics much. I know that I’ll have to study all the subjects before specialization and may be I manage to do it but I still cannot decide between medicine an dentistry. Where on one hand I’ll become an oncologist on the other hand I’ll be an orthodontist and both of them are very different… may be you can help.
I have no intentions whatsoever to follow a career in medicine (I needed this information for my project) but seeing so many people on this site looking forward to something this good just fills me with so much hope for our generation (I’ll be seventeen in November). I wish you all the best and I pray God helps you in all you do! 🙂 😀
i want to be a neurosurgeon in america and do residency there as well and would love to be a neurosurgeon and im from the sub-continent is it possible for me to become a neurosurgeon in america?
Ok. I have many questions but I’ll try to make this simple as possible. I’m 16, Junior in High School and I plan on going to college to be a Surgeon. I want to know is Medical School & the college courses for Surgeons hard? I want to either become a Anesthesiologist or a Neurosurgeon. Is the classes for both surgeons difficult? I just want to be successful and be prepared before I attend college. Also, I’ll be 18 when I graduate high school so how many years would it take until I actually become a surgeon? I’m looking for surgeons in this field to respond. But any comments are welcome.. Thanks!
Since I was a kid, I have always been facsinated with how the brain works. I want to deeply understand how the brain works that is why I want to become a neurosurgent. Now I’m in my fourth year of med-school.
thank you so much for this! im 13 and going to be a freshmen so i needed to choose my career path, which when i was five i narrowed down to neurosurgeon or lawyer. I skipped kindergarten and went to first grade because i could count to 100 and say my abc’s forwards and backwards haha. but im so exited to plan my courses acourdingly to being a neurosurgeon and I am verry excited to begin persuing my dream. thank you so much for the imput you have given me, have a nice day.
I’m not the only one!
I was seriously thinking I was weird
I mean what 14 year old,in 10th grade wants to be a Neurosurgeon?
It’s like being a flipping unicorn
Every time someone asks me what I want to be and I tell them neurosurgeon, they look at me like I’m delusional. Then I say ” yeah, big dreams huh?” Because I want them to stop looking at me like a gaping fish. Completely understand where you’re coming from.
I would. It is a very interesting career, and it teaches you how to socialize. You should consider becoming one, and maybe, we might work together in the future.
OMG me too I think this is what I will go into. my entire life everyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and now I think I have a solid answer. Glad u understand
thank you so much for this! im 13 and going to be a freshmen so i needed to choose my career path, which when i was five i narrowed down to neurosurgeon or lawyer. I skipped kindergarten and went to first grade because i could count to 100 and say my abc’s forwards and backwards haha. but im so exited to plan my courses acourdingly to being a neurosurgeon and I am verry excited to begin persuing my dream. thank you so much for the imput you have given me, have a nice day.
This was very inspiring read it a few times I’m 14 right now and all I dreamt about when I was little was being a kind of doctor helping people everywhere and doing what I can and I feel like becoming a neurosurgeon is te right way to for me in life and persue what I’ve always deemed about doing the only thing is I’m kind of confused with the whole how long you go to schooll for and that and the GPa yhing cause I live in England and it just confuses me so what’s the diffrents and how long average in England you go for and the grades you need also the schol. Thing most people are saying high school them med school now I’m all confused a little help please victor I should stop writing now any ways thank you for this inspiring article it helped me a lot and inspired me more to become a neurosurgeon hen older just a last bit how log are the breaks like how long is the holidays or weekends and do you have anyways out like nights out with friends once in a while and if upcoming thing like funerals or wedding come up suddently can you take that day of thank you again L
Thank you for your email.
Firstly I would just like to repeat that I am not a Neurosurgeon. However, I am very familiar with the field because I have several years of experience as a pediatric surgeon in Ireland and England during which time we did neurosurgery and worked closely with pediatric neurosurgeons in more complex cases.
I think my background allows me to understand your confusion Linda:
In the United States one would classically finish high school at 17 or 18 years of age, enter college and major (specialize) in pretty much any subject of interest. This may be Biology, Chemistry or English Literature. However, one must complete a list of “pre-medical” requirements prior to applying to American medical schools. These requirements include: 2 semesters of English, 2 semesters of advanced math (Calculus), 2 semesters of Biology, 2 of Inorganic Chemistry, 2 of Organic Chemistry, 2 of Physics. Then one must take and pass the standardized exam called the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). Only then is one able to apply to medical school in the U.S.
The system is significantly different in the United Kingdom (and I am less familiar with it). My understanding is that you have to do VERY well in all your A-Level exams and Leaving Cert and that the better you do the better odds you have of entering a medical school in the U.K. Medical school there is a 5 or 6-year affair.
So, as you can see, in the U.S. one first completes an undergraduate college degree (bachelor’s) and then enters graduate medical education (to get a Medical Doctor degree). In the U.K. one enters directly into medicine and finishes with 2 or 3 bachelor (undergraduate) degrees which are equivalent to the M.D. These may be referred to as MBBS (Medicine Bachelor, Bachelor in Surgery) or other ways such as MB, BCh, BAO (Medicine Bachelor, Bachelor in Chirurgy [surgery], Bachelor in the Arts of Obstetrics).
Ultimately, an American MD degree is equivalent to a U.K. medical degree (MBBS or any of the others).
As for post-graduate training, neurosurgery will be very long, very tough, and very time-consuming, no matter where you do it. I have several friends in this training and they do not have very much free time at all.
Medicine is, in of itself, a very demanding and all-absorbing career. Surgery is that much more so. Neurosurgery is even more so. This is a very important fact you must all keep in mind when choosing a career and a speciality in medicine. So, the smartest thing to do is ask yourselves WHY it is that you think you want to do this… really.
As I’ve written before, if it’s the money and glamour then I am sure there will be many many other professions that will give you this. Even though the pay is still very good in medicine, the actual work is often intense, exhausting, and non-glamorous and thankless. If you thrive in being woken up 6 times during one night to answer questions or examine patients or operate, all the while being hungry, tired, wearing the same scrubs for over 24 hours, and knowing that other people are counting on you making potentially life-changing decisions in this state, then surgery is for you.
An unhappy surgeon makes for a very sad and dangerous person. Imagine flying with a pilot who hates his job, doesn’t keep up with advances in his field, daydreams all day, and is just going through the motions! The same applies to surgery. The best surgeons live, breathe and sleep surgery.
And it’s NOT a sign of failure or inadequacy to realize that you don’t necessarily want to live it and breathe it. In the contrary, it is a sign that you truly KNOW yourself and recognize what will (and will NOT) make you happy in this life.
I am NOT trying to drive anyone away from medicine or surgery. But I AM trying to give you a realistic feel for what it might be like.
So Linda, it is perfectly natural for you, at age 14, to want to have fun weekends, to socialize with your friends and to not miss special events and parties. It would be odd if you didn’t. However, with time, we change a bit. Today, I cherish my time at home with my young kids and I haven’t stepped into a bar with friends in eons! (and I don’t miss it!).
But if you are really asking whether one might be able to stay that socially active during neurosurgical training (7 or more years) then my answer would have to be “most probably not.” As for the following 35 of neurosurgical practice, one would continue to have to make sacrifices, probably miss a few birthdays of the kids, last-minute cancellations of evening outings due to long-running surgeries or emergencies, and, unfortunately, surgery doesn’t stop on the weekends! People get head injuries and tumors and increased intracranial pressure every hour or every day of the year, even Christmas and every weekend. And, because your colleagues all want to have some rest, when you are on call in the hospital over a weekend or a holiday, you may be over-worked while everyone else recharges! As an example: for 3 years I worked Monday through Friday (7:30AM to 6PM). On top of these ‘business hours’ I would continue onto the evening and night, right through until the end of the following business day, twice a week. And on top of that, one entire weekend (saturday morning until Monday night) I would spend in the hospital every month. You can imagine what I did the other 3 weekends a month right? That’s right, SLEEP.
Surgery it’s not all bad, however. I have focused on the demands of the job because of your comment. Needless to say, there are few highs as intense as walking out of an 8-hour surgery knowing that you just worked yourself to absolute exhaustion for the sole reason to save a stranger’s life. And tomorrow, you might have to do it again as part of your routine. It’s amazing.
Your insight into this field is excellent. If Linda is more concerned about
holidays and hours, I would suggest she choose another career. Being a
neurosurgeon is NOT a social job; it is hard work, from medical school
onwards. My son frequently has 18-20 hour days and frankly, he has no
time for a social life. That will come later. Being a neurosurgeon requires
total devotion to your patient’s welfare – not quite the same as being a GP.
Good day! Me too… I really want to become a Doctor, specializing Neurosurgery. I also a Registered Nurse here in the Philippines. And I’m already 3 yrs in this Profession. But the worst thing, still I have NO Regular Job as a Nurse. Due to lack and inadequate job vacancy for Nurses here, and abroad. But then, at the very FIRST, I really want to become a Doctor. And really want to enter at Medical School here. Due to Financial Problem, I can’t enter. My intense to enter med school and to become a Doctor(Neurosurgeon) is on the HIGHEST LEVEL. Honestly speaking, I inspired with my Neurological disorder, which is the Hydrocephalus. I have a Shunt, and already had 5X VP Shunting, due to Malfunction and dislocation of my shunt in the previous years. That’s why, I really Admired my Military Neurosurgeons.
Hi, there are quite a few posts here!! I just finished writing a few essays on getting into the focus neuro program at Duke where I attending starting next year for by bachelors in biochemistry and global Heath with a certificate in neuroscience. Anyway, I really enjoyed all of the reading 🙂 it is nice sometimes to step back and realize there are so many others with dreams like mine (neurosurgery). Especially I just wanted to say your words (Victor) on this post were written so elequently and inspiring it was like a breath of fresh air as recently I just graduated high school and have had some time to just think about the long and hard path I have chosen and many expect for me (especially my parents who soo just want the brag rights which is sad).
Nonetheless, I really do feel like this is the path for me. I’m not in it for the money as really ive never liked it and all i would like to do with it is spread it around especially to those I feel need it for their dreams as few have helped me with mine (yes naive but its something ive always based myself on), and I like the idea of my career being my life because to me this is all I’ve wanted to do and it fills all my passion (and it might just be the overachiever in me but hey it’s who I am). I feel like being a surgeon would solve all my problems, because i love having a purpose and direction. In the long run I just want to be happy and feel like I’ve been successful. I know I’m strong and if this is the right thing for me it will happen. I never thought of a foreign medical school!! I’m very big into culture and life so that might be an option for me.
I’m rambling though, anyway have a great day! And thank you for spending your time on all of us neurosurgeon-wannabes we are all so eager, it’s the type a personality almost toxic sometimes. Haha
My dad’s amazing recovery after surgery (he had spinal surgery) inspired me to get into medicine. I am currently at a community college and I recently decided to major in biology…will be transferring to a uni in 2 years. I hope to become a neurosurgeon one day!
My ambition is of becoming a Neurosurgeon and I hope that I will once get there.I realised that many people die of related cases which make me sometimes have a lot of pain in me and that is why I thought of undertaking it and save many more lives,hoping that God will help get through.
This article has inspired me so much. I first became interested in becoming a Neurosurgeon later last year. Um, I am currently 14 and I was truely inspired by the Ben Carson movie. My parents push me to find more information on Neurosergeons and what they do. This article had everything in it. From the salary to the pro’s and cons. I am already looking towards my college and medical school. Knowing that there are not many Neurosurgeons, especially females pushes me even more. once again Thanks for this great article!
I am also 14 and am very inspired by the Ben Carson story. I have been looking into the field of neurosurgery for a few years now. I have always pushed myself to do the best that I can and eventually It should pay off.
Finally, faith in my generation is slowly starting to recover because I’ve been conversating with my peers about my future. A considerable amount of them don’t take me seriously and continue to suffer later due to companies more likely to hire very skilled employees. I’m finally glad to see and hear comments about my generation taking up this ideal course. I always wanted to become a neurosurgeon because our brains are capable of storing vast amounts of memory and are able to find interminable discoveries and mysteries that are akin to the oceans and universe. Our generations might cure cerebrovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, or Dementia.
I am 14 and I am considering becoming a neurosugeon. I learned a multitude of things from this, it has helped a lot in progressing my knowledge and decision. This was a truly wonderful interview, in depth questions which consequently produced in depth answers. Well Done!
This may be a faint memory to you now victor, but how many hours of studying would you be doing in med school or residency? Or would it be easier to say, how much time did you have to yourself? The major thing I’m worried about is the fact, I will never have the time to do the things I would want to do
Please allow me a little exaggerated bluntness in order to make a very important point: If you are worried that your training in medicine will crowd out the “things you would want to do” then consider doing those very things instead of medical training.
Now, I’m not trying to be rude or dismissive, but this is probably *THE* most important question when contemplating a career in medicine. Human life is very short as it is and a lot of things can happen which can totally change your plans… or even end them in an instant. So be sure that whatever you do in your life that you do it with heart, with passion, and that you derive at least SOME happiness every single day of your life.
One finds all sorts of peers in medical school and residency and I’ll tell you… a fair amount of them were extraordinarily bright but still managed to enter and stay in the wrong career! Many were absolutely miserable! One actually entered medicine practically on a dare! A friend got in and she figured, “Well, I’m certainly as good as she is so I bet I can get in too!” and she did and she finished with honors and went on to several years in residency but eventually left the entire field.
Whatever your situation be sure you’re in it for the right reasons: Because you can’t imagine doing anything better in your life.
Now, for your question: I attended medical school in Europe where it can take from 5-6 years instead of 4 and I will tell you that I wouldn’t have changed it for the world! Sure I paid more but the mental sanity, the existence of a social life and the much longer summers were incredible. The social life was humane and yet the work was very intense and focused while the calibre of my colleagues was second to none. The entire curriculum was different from the U.S. For instance, anatomy in the U.S. can be as brief a several weeks. We did 3 semesters, in part because my med school (The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) trained surgeons for a very long time so the department remained very strong. Anyway, certainly I found the time to go to the gym every morning for 1 hour, attend all of my lectures, eat 3 square meals a day, including dinner with friends or in front of the t.v., and enjoy part of the weekends sightseeing Dublin and the rest of the country. We had enough vacations for me to visit Paris with my girl friend, London, Spain, Italy… Many American friends of mine there also managed to continue their past-times of hiking, surfing, film-going, etc.
The work was intense but there was breathing room every once in a few months. I will let U.S. graduates tell you more about their experiences. I will, however, tell you that many friends returned to the U.S. and I subsequently hung out with their U.S. graduate colleagues in residency and they couldn’t get over the fondness with which us R.C.S.I. grads talked about our med school days! They, on the other hand, categorically agreed they had NOT enjoyed it. Instead, they had BARED it. Clearly, very different experiences.
Ultimately, you must possess enough drive to get you through it all. It’s not healthy to think of it as “I’m just here to check the boxes and get my M.D.”… like an American friend said to me the first week of med school. Needless to say, he isn’t practicing after so many years of hard studying (and a huge debt!)…
Whatever you decide I wish you the very best luck in having the wisdom to know what will really make you happy. Be sure to have that very candid conversation with yourself. It will be the most important conversation you might ever have.
Hey,thank very very much for the info at first i wasn,t sure whether to be a GP or neurosurgeon but now i,m sure and i,m willing to work hard to be a neurosurgeon
Hey there,I,m 17 and I,m doing my forth year at high school, thank you very much for this inspiring info and I,m now looking forward to being a neurosurgeon
Hello everyone, My name is Richard and I’m from the Caribbean. I’ve been wanting to be a Neurosurgeon since I was 11 (I’m 14 now) after reading Ben Carson’s Biography. Before I wanted to be one because I wanted to help people, however, now I’m afraid that I want to be one for the money. Is that a good or a bad thing?
(This page was VERY inspiring)
In my humble opinion I am afraid this is a bad thing. Surely we all want to have a job that pays us well and ensures we have a comfortable and secure lifestyle and yes, neurosurgery is associated with the higher rates of income among surgical specialists… but there are a few points to keep in mind:
1) Medicine is not just a job. It’s a way of life, a vocation, a calling. It’s like the military, like ranching, like the arts… it’s a lifestyle choice, not just a day job. If any one of these ways of life isn’t your cup of tea and you pursue it… you are likely to be miserable.
2) Neurosurgeons get paid a lot… for a reason. You need to shadow a neurosurgical resident… but not for a day or a week… but perhaps a month. You need to understand that as a surgeon you may literally not get the TIME to spend the money you make! (It happened to me!).
3) There are probably easier ways to make the money a neurosurgeon makes… if money is what you are after. Depending on your skills and talents you may be better off in law school, business school, or just starting a business out of college! Who knows… but very few (good, happy) surgeons are in it mainly for the money. In order to do your job adequately (and not get your butt sued off) you need to CARE… and care A LOT. If you are not thinking about your patient as your own child, mother, brother or sister and focusing on how you’d like them treated then there is probably somebody out there who deserves your job more than you.
I recommend you reassess your motivations and your vocation and consider other professions. If you find that you simply want a lot of money you probably should look elsewhere. Imagine if the medical field changes and neurosurgeons end up earning a fraction of what they make now… what would you do then? Did you know it is almost an inevitable fact that all doctors will be making significantly less money in the near future in the U.S. and probably in most places?
Think long and hard about this.
I wish you the best of luck in whatever endeavor you choose to put your heart and soul!
Been amazingly helpful. Thanx a lot. In med school now and I think I’m well convinced about being a neurosurgeon after school
I am really inspired hope i will get there someday.
I loved this inerview….Very very inspiring:)
# Victor pena
Simply exhilarating mind stuff …unbelievable clarity and mindblowingly thought provoking words..thank myself for having crossed your words on this site today..i am a neurosurgeon from india
Dear Balaji Srinivas,
I am very grateful for your extremely kind and generous words.
I am a firm believer in the universal brotherhood that unites doctors around the globe. Medicine is truly a unique calling and I have found with time that the human drama is at its heart, but not just the patient’s human drama but also the drama playing within the healer. We are not above the suffering, the illness, the pain, nor the death. We are in a unique position to attempt to help others while dealing with our own ills. I have also learned that we should make ourselves far more available to one another to cope better with our profession.
As always, I wish all doctors and students around the world the best of luck in the Noblest of Professions.
Very interesting! I’m a junior in high school and have considered the neurosurgeon profession for a few months now.
I’m from Texas, and I plan to go to Rice University to get my Bachelor’s in Pre-medicine. After that, I hope to attend Baylor’s School of Medicine. Hopefully everything works out!
Hi, I just wanted to thank you. I was just told today that neurosurgeons are extremely smart and that I don’t stand much of a chance. I would like to thank you for this interview. It is nice to know that hard work and dertermination can get me to where I wanna be in life.
Hmm, it may be that you are talking to, or receiving advice, from the wrong people! Who would be ignorant enough to say that “neurosurgeons are extremely smart”? And who would be rude and mean enough to tell you that “you don’t stand a chance?” I am no shrink but I’ve studied psychology and behavioral science for enough years to recognize the defense mechanism known as “projection” when I see it! Whoever gave you that advice is projecting their own perceived inadequacies onto you. And this applies EVEN if this person knows you very well (such as a parent) and even if this person is the director of the world’s toa neurosurgery fellowship! In other words, I can’t imagine ANYONE on the planet being qualified to make such silly umbrella statements. So ignore them and seek your own happiness. You may or may not be able to be a neurosurgeon… but there is only one way to find out, and believing ignorant put-downs is NOT the way.
So, whatever you do just listen to your heart, forget status, salaries, and t.v. shows… when it comes down to it we are talking about YOUR life and what you want to spend it doing.
Best of luck in the future!
Really it helped me very much …thanks best of luck to all my dear surgeons….
Thank you so much!
Well my parents are sending me to boarding school
for 3 months, things r different here in africa.
I now realise i spent too much time worrying
abt how am going to fail instead of reading!
So am going to give my best shot at it!
Once again thnk you so much you have inpired
me! I will try inform you of my results, most
likely after those 3 mnths!
Thank you so much. I will be sure to try that!
but it may be too late! I have exams in four days
time, n am not sure i can make it, is it really
possible to change anything in such a short time?
I don’t know what exams you are preparing for and frankly, it doesn’t matter. No exam should ever, EVER stress you so much so as to impair your overall perspective of life, it’s worth, the miracle of simply being alive and healthy enough to have free will.
If you find that an exam is affecting you at that level then you really need to reassess your entire purpose of studying, taking exams, your choice of career, as well as your entire approach to your life.
Suppose that one day you DO become a neurosurgeon and suppose that you are removing a rare tumor from the base of someone’s posterior cranial fossa. Will you be able to take on the responsibility of this person possibly suffering a stroke, becoming paralyzed for life, or even dying as the sole and direct consequence of the movements of your very own hands? How do you suppose surgeons go on living their lives while carrying this sort of responsibility? How do you think a surgeon goes back to work the morning after having been responsible for a catastrophic complication the night before? Where does he or she find the will, the motivation, the confidence, the faith in his own abilities to not suffer a total nervous breakdown? You rarely see surgeons committing suicide, being shipped to a psychiatric unit or retiring overnight.
Handling stress is a learned skill. And handling stress is an absolutely VITAL skill in the entire field of medicine. And exams are a wonderfully harmless and risk-free way to get your feet wet in perceived stress since the paper or computer in front of you can’t possibly bleed to death, suffer a stroke, lose a limb, or die on you. Or sue you for malpractice (which scares some doctors more than death itself!).
You must learn, over time, to get a grip on your situation, think clearly, block out all distracting negative thoughts and emotions, and get in ‘the zone’ where you have the best access to, and use of, all of the information you have learned in order to apply it to the exam in front of you. And NEVER waste time freaking out about the consequences of failing an exam… because freaking out has NEVER, EVER helped anyone pass an exam but it sure as heck has caused someone’s worst fears to come true: they froze, they freaked, they panicked and they didn’t even read the questions right so they doomed themselves even before entering an answer.
As for changing things in such a “short time”, well, like I mentioned to you before, a 5-second deep breath isn’t such a long time, is it?
So think positively, focus on what you already know and do your best. Good luck in your exam, your career, and you life. Have a great one!
i’ve wanted to be a neurosurgeon 4some time now,
but all of a sudden my grades have dropped, i can’t
concentrate on my books anymore, i have lost confidence
in myself. Every time i try to sit down n revise I
always have this thought in ma head that itz of no use
to read becoz i will fail anyway, my parents have lost
hope in me i’ve even thought of suicide. Someone
Help me i don kno wat to do anymore?
Clearly you need to stop, take a slow and deep breath, have a deep think about what is going on in your life and seek professional help as soon as possible.
A medical career (as well as the prospect of entering one) is never a sprint but rather a very, very long marathon in which pacing is everything and “burn out” is your constant foe. Whether you go into medicine or not BALANCE in one’s life is essential if you don’t want to be a ‘flash in the pan’ and ‘crash and burn’ when you might have otherwise had decades more of productivity and joy in your life.
Anybody with any degree of insight and realism will, at one time or another, suffer of self-doubt. It is normal and in fact it tells you that you are SANE. If you have NEVER doubted yourself about anything significant then you may have a personality disorder associated with grandiosity and self-delusion! So be glad that you have insight and that you know you could fail… because THAT can be the greatest motivator to start anew, to clean the slate and set off on a new effort.
Just yesterday I was wondering how I’ve come this far and my answer was: RENEWAL. Constant RENEWAL at all scales: Every new year is a new chance to gather one’s goals, energy, focus, and resolutions… but so are every month, every weekend, every morning, and even every meal. RENEWAL is a perception which refreshes and clears the mind, resets the mental and physiological stressors. RENEWAL can take the form of a week-long vacation, a 20-minute walk or jog, a 10-minute Yoga stretch by the side of your desk, a 5- minute song on your MP3 while you keep your eyes closed, a 2-minute escape to eat a small chocolate and look out the window, a 20-second stop of surgery for the surgeons to stretch their spines and relax their vision and gather their thoughts, or a 5-second deep deep and slow breath. Every break counts towards refreshment… and this is what has kept me not just sane but happy, energized, focused, and with a healthy perspective on everything happening in my life, being good or bad.
So Mafabi, I recommend you find some time for yourself, gather your thoughts, identify and try to analyze why you feel so stressed and depressed, and you go and speak to a medical professional as soon as possible in order get your bearings so that you can be on your way to better grades soon, but far more importantly so you can get back to enjoying your life.
I sincerely wish you, and anyone else identifying with your situation (which is far more common than anyone might admit), the very best of luck. I admire you for being so sincere. Take care of yourself.
Im a sophomore in highschool and i know i am very young but i have taken an interest in Neurology. In school i always have questions about the human brain, heart, and spinal cord. I am very smart and none of my friends can understand why im always striving for more for example: they are on youtube or facebook while i am googling on the parts of the brain or learning how the heart works. Do you have any recomendations on what career would suit me? I have no idea on what i want to be, but i do know that i dont want to be a regular doctor or nurse. I want something more. Any opinions?
Hi Kimberly! I’m not expert in this field, but I may be able to help you out. It seems like you want a career in a lesser known specialty of neurology, you want something different.
First, Google specialties & sub specialties of neurology. You will find many different & diverse branches of neurology, some that you didn’t know even existed. You will have to do research on your own to see what you would like to do. For example, if you had some interest in radiology as well as neurology, I would recommend looking into being an interventional neurologist, which combines the two. Other specialities of neurology that combine similar fields are clinical neuropsychologists & neuropsychiatrists. Also, there are neurologists who specialized in different aspects, such as sleep medicine, pain medicine, neuromuscular medicine, neurodevelopmental disabilities, etc. I didn’t list everything I found, nor did I describe in detail the specialties I found above. I think it would better benefit you if you research on your own. See what you like & don’t like. Examine all aspects of the field. You may also change your mind later, so don’t worry about choosing something now and having to stick with it.
Also, enjoy high school when you can! Keep your grades up & participate in activities to show you are well-rounded (make sure that you actually like doing it and it’s not just for college). Also, if you really like an activity you do, whether it is sports, music, drama, etc., you can probably find a way to incorporate in into your future career. But, don’t worry too much about all of this, you have plenty of time.
Best of luck! And, I hope I helped you out a bit.
Also, I forgot to mention some things.
You should look into finding some ways to see if the medical field is for you. I posted something earlier where I said I participated in a Biomedical program & a psychiatry internship. I learned I like to use my hands to work and I enjoy dissecting specimens (I learned this from the program), but I learned I’m not interested in doing research in the medical field (I learned this during my internship). But both experiences were good because I learned what I like & didn’t like. So during the summer, try looking for internships (in my county, we actually have a class geared to going to internships during your senior year) in the community (your guidance counselor at school may be able to help you) or a medical/science summer programs that gear towards your interest. Don’t be disappointed if it is not a neurology internship, or if it is, you may be finding yourself doing a lot of paperwork or errands. That’s ok. Just stick it out & learn from the experience.
Thank you Tomi, I didn’t know there were so many other options that have to do with what I am looking for. I will look into the website and do my research. Thank you once again 🙂
Hi there! My name is Tomi and I’m about to be a junior in high school. From a young age, I’ve thought about entering the medicine field, since I have been surrounded by many family members and family friends who worked in it. I came across neurosurgery and started to look into it. I really would love to heal patients, especially children, of illnesses and other medical issues, so that is why I have been saying how much I want to be a pediatric neurosurgeon. As far as school goes, I am a straight-A student in GT/AP classes. I’ve competed in science fairs and received 1st place and other specialty awards. Also, I recently attended a Biomedical Program sponsored by the Navy and I’m currently interning at a psychiatry department at a local school of medicine. I’ve learned from the Biomedical program that I really like the hands-on approach of the medical field (suturing and using a laparoscopic surgery stimulator), but I’ve started to have doubts on becoming a neurosurgeon. I still want to stay in the medical field (most like still doing surgery) and I strongly desire to work & heal children. I like the idea of neurosurgery (and I must admit, I find the pay attractive), but I just want to be sure this is the field I want to enter. What are some suggestions that someone who is going through the same thing or who went through the same thing advise for myself and others who have this problem? Thank you for your time.
It sounds as though if you manage to stay in the direction you are on now then you should not have any problems getting into medical school… so congratulations on that.
Frankly I think you are unnecessarily worrying about specialties. I suggest you read my reply to Joe in June 15th (see above). Medicine is a life-long endeavor: after years and years of preparation, applications, studying and training you will have to decide about specialities… and even then… you will remain a student of disease, suffering, and healing for the rest of your days. One NEVER masters the field of medicine.
So what you should be debating in your mind at this stage is whether you think medicine in for you or not. I think it’s excellent that you are getting your foot in the door of medicine and the biomedical sciences. Medicine is mind-bogglingly broad and there is a specialty for everyone. So don’t even be thinking that you are having “doubts”… just keep your eyes open, take every opportunity that comes your way and learn about yourself. Forget about income… these things change with time… and what is the point of having loads of money in the bank if maybe you are miserable working for 18 hours a day in a field that you don’t like. First determine what you enjoy doing and then you will naturally adapt to the income. Mark my words: If you are going into medicine for the money you WILL regret it. I have many friends who made that mistake and they now realize that for the amount of work and years they put into it they could be CEO’s of a company by now, instead they are still working 12-14 hour-days as surgeons and they feel underpaid and unhappy. Besides, the way health care is going int he U.S. today, by the time you could become a neurosurgeon it is very likely that all specialists will be taking very large pay cuts (it’s already starting). So forget about the money. Focus on what you like and everything else should fall in to place.
Best of luck in your future.
what do you suggest to do in pre med for basic sciences
Wow! So much I didn’t know! I am about to begin my 4th year at The Ohio State University. I am a Biology major, Pre-Medicine health profession path program. I have been wanting to be a neurosurgeon since I was about 9 years old. Unfortunately, my GPA is currently only around a 3.0. Definitely not high enough for med school!
I am currently involved in cancer genetics research, which I know helps a lot. I am also hoping to start shadowing a neurosurgeon.
I haven’t taken the MCAT yet, and will probably be taking a year off after my undergrad to study for it. Based on your experiences, what are my best options? I know for sure I want to be a surgeon, preferably a neurosurgeon, but open to other options!
I have been looking into obtaining my DO, versus the MD. What are the main differences?
Thanks so much in advance for any advice you have!! 🙂
As I have mentioned in my previous responses, I encourage you to do some real research into these careers as well as some real should searching. It sounds like you’re off to a very good start.
17 years ago I was exactly in the same situation as you: good school, Bio major, Health professions pathway, 3.0 GPA. My Health professions advisor (my org chem professor!) sat me down and said,
“I have never met anyone like you before. You come across as an amazing young man, you are so dedicated to becoming a doctor, your faculty and peer letters of recommendation are impressive, your work ethic is admirable, your C.V. is perfectly well-rounded and personally you are extremely likable. Unfortunately your grades are simply not good enough in your premed courses. It hurts me to say this to you, it really does, but right now, I am afraid your chances of getting into medical school are practically ‘nil’. ”
Now Kylie, I could have taken that and changed my course or taken that as a challenge. I did the latter. I never took it personally, I never got upset at being told such a potentially catastrophic statement from the chairman of the committee supposed to write the most important letter in the application process to medical school.
Attitude is everything. I never doubted for ONE second that *I* would be an excellent doctor if *I* could only give MYSELF the chance to show it. So I didn’t give you and as you might have heard many times before:
WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY.
I too concluded that I would probably be wasting a year, my money, and my hopes on applying to med school in 1996 so I did my “Plan B” which was to take a year off (in Boston) and study for the MCAT and apply to foreign medical schools. I am originally from Mexico so I applied to UAG (Guadalajara) which is good and has a program for Americans. I also applied to the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin Ireland because I knew it had a very good world reputation, and I applied to a couple of Caribbean med schools as safety schools. I got into all of them and decided to move to Europe for College of Surgeons’ 6-year-long program. I know, it sounded crazy! I had never even being to Ireland! However, I HAD wanted to study abroad during college but hadn’t been able to because of the pre-med requirements I was so busy trying to fulfill! So I was actually excited about the idea of living abroad.
Later I would discover that the application rate into U.S. med school in 1996 was the highest ever on record: about 46,000 applicants for 14,000 seats… so I still don’t think I would have had a shot in hell.
Well, I had an amazing time! My studies were intense and very productive, my clinical exposure and skills were excellent, my social life was far more fun than college (or any American medical school, that’s for sure!), and my fun I don’t mean mindless partying and drinking. I mean interesting, stimulating, and which gave me many life-long friends from all sorts of cultural backgrounds and world views. I had loads of American classmates on the same boat, and eventually everyone got what we wanted. All my friends who applied to surgery in the U.S. got in. I chose to stay longer in Europe and work because I loved it so much and I ended up staying in (in Dublin and London) for another 8 years of general and pediatric surgery (which was the specialty I had wanted since I was 5 years old!). I visited every country in Western Europe, I have friends from every continent, my outlook on life/work balance is far healthier than that of most American doctors, and I consider myself a citizen of the world. My wife is French and my children were born in London, we’ve lived in France, we now live in the U.S. and they will speak 3 languages.
Kylie, life has an amazing way to work itself out while surprising you all along. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life and what first appeared as a discouraging setback or compromise with my wishes, became probably one of the most formative and wonderful aspects of my globe-trotting life.
So open your mind, remain open to all the options which will enable you to realize your dreams… and KEEP AT IT. Just keep carving out your way through the challenges as they present themselves to you. Don’t take anyone’s opinion more seriously than your own and YOU will make it happen.
Best of luck in YOUR adventure!
Sorry, corrections to three typos:
“SOUL searching”, not should searching
“So I didn’t give UP”, not give you
“and BY fun”, not my fun
And by the way, on my graduation from med school I was tempted to send my professor a copy of my diploma just for good measure. : )
Whether one is interested in a particular sub-specialty or simply knows he/she wants to “help people” one will have to go through A LOT of every important and enlightening experiences on the path to reaching that goal. If you do choose medicine as a career then you will probably have 4 years of basic sciences in college (Pre-med) to learn more about your sensibilities, your work ethic and style, and the sort of life you hope to have as a professional.
THEN you may have some time working, doing research at a lab, or getting a masters degree or perhaps you’ll go straight into med school.
THEN you will have 3 years of proper medicine and several rotations through various specialties which will give you extremely valuable insight into what it’s really like to work in medicine and how different specialties define the particular life and work of the doctors in each of them.
AND THEN you will have to decide (in the event that you haven’t completely changed interest in specialities!) whether you want to go into a GENERAL radiology residence or a GENERAL surgical residency. During these you will again do a lot of rotations through subspecialties within the field and THEN, ONLY THEN, you will have to decide whether as a radiologist you want to do a fellowship in the Nervous system or as a General surgeon you want to do a fellowship in Neurosurgery.
So assuming you are a high school senior now we are talking about a decision you might have to make in about 15 years!
So my advice to you is to relax your mind and eyes to the incredibly wide varieties of experiences which the health field offers (I had a lot of pre-med colleagues who were stellar students, far better than me!, but simply decided to go for a PhD’s or other professions instead of medicine and now they are very happy professional). Right now, it should be about getting to know yourself, what you like and enjoy and focusing on getting into medical school, if that’s what you really want. While in med school try to meet and follow neurosurgeons and radiologists doing neurology and follow them for entire days.
You will find that the “neuro” isn’t as importantly different as the “surgeon” and “radiology” parts. In other words, the lives of most surgeons (of any specialty) is very different from most radiologists. Here are some major attributes (and valid generalizations) you should keep in mind:
RADIOLOGISTS v. SURGEONS:
1) R’s. work from a desk or computer, S’s run around the hospital all day and night, literally.
2) R’s have very limited patient contact since they are sent the patients by other doctors, S’s have intensive patient contact in multiple clinics, ward rounds, pre-op assessments, surgery, and post-op rounds.
3) R.’s tend to have more reasonable work hours (8AM-6PM) and often can do “night call” from home where they view emailed images of urgent cases on their computers, S’s are increasingly expected to stay in the hospital all through the night (and not just during training but even as an attending for their entire careers!), they start work very early (5 or 6AM) and finish late every day (7-10PM). S’s tend to have very long and intense residencies (5-7 years, 12-hour days). NEUROsurgeons are even MORE intense than regular surgeons in all regards.
4) Relatively speaking, radiologists are more like DETECTIVES, studying images very carefully in an office often designed to do that (dark room, comfortable chair, quality computer screens, etc). Surgeons are more like HANDYMEN and are seen all over the place in the hospital! They’re always moving, have to think and make decisions fast, deal with a lot of people, work on the wards, the bed-side, clinic, the Intensive Care Units, go around morning and evening to see all the patients, perform small procedures in clinics, wards, radiology department, on ambulances, wherever it may be required.. and all of this pretty much every day! Oh yeah, and they also operate in operating rooms. And THAT is your sacred place where all else falls away and you can focus on the patient in front of you and you don’t have to run around so much. But as soon as the operation is finished the running around starts all over again, especially when things have built up while you were operating!
5) R’s may or may not choose to do technical procedures. Invasive radiology is very much hands-on and you have to be good with eye-hand coordination. But if you are a conventional radiologist coordination is not really a requirement. In fact you can be a brilliant radiologist and have a tremor in your hands… but you gotta have good eyes because eye strain is a real occupational hazard when you look at faint and blurry images all day. S’s, on the other had, must be good with their hands and eyes, have physical and mental stamina, and be fast and decisive in their actions. You can’t sit on the fence in surgery. R’s DESCRIBE, S’s DO.
It’s NOT supposed to be an attempt to put down any one specialty, since no job is more important than the other and it’s not a competition. The two jobs share the same objective: to help the patient get better. (Don’t forget this because you will soon discover doctors love to perpetuate very silly stereotypes about all specialties and they all claim to be in the best one. “Surgeons look down on internists, internists look down on orthopedists, orthopedists look down on pathologists and Neurosurgeons look down on everybody.” It’s all silly and meaningless. And likewise, I still have no clue why “brain surgeon” is supposed to mean “smart” since I have never met a single neurosurgeon who struck me as somehow extraordinarily intelligent. The specialty does not require any more intellect, in ANY regard, than any other medical specialty. Many people often set their aims on neurosurgery very early on as a way to prove their intellectual ability to themselves and others. This is a VERY SERIOUS MISTAKE because they could sacrifice SO much of their lives, only to find themselves in the wrong field. So DON’t fall for that. Do what you want to do without listening to stereotypes.
I am trying to explain to you how the two main branches may appeal to different typos of personality and only you will know which one suits you best.
I wish you and the rest of the readers the very best in you adventure of this wonderful profession!
Thanks for the Advice it really helped!
I want to become a neurosurgeon or a radiologist specializing in the brain and nervous system. there both good careers and require about the same amount and type of education following high-school, but i cant choose which one, can you give me the pros and cons of a neurosurgeon
its been great reading this i even used it for research for my school project but I’ve run into a problem i really don’t know how i am going to site this page any help?
You can just site the website and URL for the interview as your source. Have your teacher email us if she has any questions [email protected] Thanks!
Becoming a neurosurgeon has been my dream for many years, I learnt about things I didn’t know. I’m 14 yrs old and my passion is growing ever stronger. I loved reading the interview.
what would you expect the quality of life for a neurosurgeon in hong kong and what monthly salary because im thinking of moving there and i don’t know if it is a wise choice
Hi,i am a medical student in my finals,have always thought of/neurosurgery as a great field,would need a mentor whom i can communicate with often
I would love to become a neurosurgeon. I am very interested in being in the medical buisness. I think that it is great helping people and you make lots of money while doing it. I also LOVE school, so I think becoming a neurosurgeon would be great for me. (:
Hello, my name is Rion and I hope on becoming a neurosurgeon. I am 14 years old and have always wanted to be a doctor of some sort since a small child, something about helping people makes me happy :). I just wanted to say that I am doing a career project about neurosurgery right now for the end of 8th grade and this has helped a lot. Thank-you all.
I am fourteen as well and am very inspired seeing all of these people my age driving themselves to become neurosurgeons. I don’t know about you, but I have repeatedly had teachers, peers, and even doctors tell me I will never become a neurosurgeon. I’m in all Honor’s a grade ahead and have straight A’s. I say I will be whatever I drive myself to become. With that mantality I promise you will get WHEREVER you are trying to go. Best wishes!
Plus, it makes me happy to see improvements in lives in general, but especially when I was able to help.
Don’t listen to your teachers, even though it sounds cheesy, you can do almost anything you want to do in this world. Becoming a neurosurgeon may be very difficult, but it is still possible.
Today I was accepted into a charter academy and in all Honor’s. They are even offering scholarships. I was able to go tell my teachers what was happening, and I felt that that showed them they were wrong, and I am not allowing anything to get in my way!
Thank you for your wise advice. It is much welcome no matter the cheese level. 😉
Dear Samantha and Rion,
I think you both will make excellent doctors/surgeons one day! You both sound very passionate and enthusiastic about doing good in the world. I’m about to be a junior in high school, and I have found there are few people in my life that I could truly say are passionate about something. I have always been told that I can do anything I want, so I can’t imagine anyone telling me I can’t. But, there is nothing that I have found more gratifying in life than proving someone wrong. Any I admire you too for believing in yourselves. I have said that I wanted to become a pediatric neurosurgeon, but I’m having doubts. I still want to look into other fields of medicine, so keep an open mind. Anyways, you two inspire me to keep going and someday become a great doctor/surgeon myself. Maybe someday we will encounter each other. Best of luck!
Well i would like to become a neurosurgeon and im doing a project on it in school ADD ME ON FACEBOOK to tell me your stories about your experiences and yeah!!(:
hey im also doing the same.Some people think im a freak since i always get A*. But since i got in this website, i feel like im not the only genius and thats awesome. see ya!!!!!!!! 😉
Hey everyone! I’m Mmek and i’m 16 years old. I’ve always wanted to be a neurosurgeon since when I was ten. Reading this article inspired and motivated me a lot and now I think I’m crazier about neurosurgery more than ever.
Hi, my name is nick, and I’m twelve. I have wanted to persue this career since two years ago when my friend’s dad , who is a cardiac electro physioligist, came into my school to do a presentation for the 4th grade. At the end of his presentation he was open to questions and first I asked him why he wanted to do what he does, and he told me that at first he wanted to be a neurosurgeon but he found that his job suited him best. I asked him some of the same questions as the interview did and he gave very similar answers. Now I believe that being a neurosurgeon helps many people, and that it is perfect for me. THis article has helped me see that.
I have been wanting to be a Neurosurgeon for three yevfrars now. I am graduating from highschool next year. This article only motivates me more to become a Neurosurgeon. Thank you for this article. It is greatly appreciated.
hello, my name is kyle and i am fifteen. I have wanted to be a neurosurgeon since is was ten years old and this artical has really shown me alot more about this field of work. I was really suprised when i read that people were leaving you thank you cards, wow that must be a pleasent feeling. when i read that in your artical it really inspired me to do my best and to not stop until i do become a neurosurgeon. plus to all the other people on here that want to be neurosergeons like me or whatever it is that you want to be i wish you the best of luck
My name is Samantha and I am also a fifteen year old who dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon. I wish you the best and the smoothest road to accomplishing your dreams. Keep to what you want and let nothing interfere!
Hi my name is Esther and i am thirteen.Since fourth grade i have been aspiring to become a neurosurgeon. Many times I have heard many people say that to become a neurosurgeon you need to be really smart but thanks to this site i have finally known that to becoming a neurosurgeon does not depend on smarts but on ones hard work. The main reason why i wanted to become a neurosurgeon was to help other people at all costs. I get good grades in Mathematics(A) and in Biology(A),Chemistry(A) and Physics(A).
The only way that we can make it is through God’s power and if we believe in Him, He will take us far. I am a living testimony of God’s amazing grace for He has always being with me and has always helped me. Good luck guys and may God be with you all. REMEMBER: CHALLENGES ARE STEPPING STONES IN LIFE, NEVER AVOID THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE THERE TO TAKE YOU TO A HIGHER LEVEL.
Hi, my name is Lela Davis and I am 14 years old. For about 6 years I’ve been wanting to pursue a profession in the medical field and bout 2 years ago I finally made up my mind and decided to become a Neurosurgeon. I’ve become so interested and passionate about this field of medicine/work ;I started planning and researching every aspect there is out there … to becoming a Neurosurgeon. Even though i still have loads of questions this article has opened my eyes to what this field of work is all about .Helping people. So thanks
Passionately involved ,Lela Davis
goodluck to all of you hope your dreams come true:D
It’s my pleasure Aaron, as most people, I used any and all available advice to help me decide to enter medicine. It’s just great to see the accessibility JobShadow is offering aspiring professionals.
Good work and keep it up!
To “anominous” and everyone else,
It is a bit strange that this surgeon didn’t mention college.
Indeed, the most conventional route to becoming a surgeon in the U.S. is:
1) High School
2) College (4-year bachelor’s)
3) Medical School (4 years)
4) General Surgery Residence (5-7 years, depending on whether it involves research)
5) Optional 1-3 years of subspecialty training
However, with time, many different options have emerged:
1) A very good science high school with AP courses could shorten your college years
2) There are a few college/medical school joint programs where you can complete both degrees in 6 instead of 8 years
3) A growing number of college graduates are studying medicine abroad because of the inadequate number of seats at American schools. The most popular are in the Caribbean but the best ones are in Europe (The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and in Mexico (Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara). The latter has taken part in the Fifth Pathway program which matches students with clinical clerkships in the U.S. in later years of medical school.
4) Also a very large number of people are entering medical school with advanced degrees (MBA’s, MPH’s, MA’s, JD’s) or significant work experience.
5) Lastly, for people who are interested in medicine but have already finished college there are special Pre-med prep programs in which you can fulfill all the medical school application requirements in a concentrated period of time, usually in 12 to 18 months.
The main thing is to know what you want to do with your life, be sure to visit and shadow as many different doctors as you can if you are considering medicine, tailor your plans to your personality and priorities, and to not be afraid to change your plans along the way. Be sure not to judge an entire profession on your interaction with one boring or perhaps unhappy doctor. Look for the one who ENJOYS his or her job and is ENTHUSIASTIC about it.
Good luck to anyone interested in a medicine as a profession!
Really great comment, thanks for the additional thoughts and info! The education field is definitely evolving in medicine.
yah i know 🙂
I thought there was more schooling
Hello, I am 16 and I will be graduating next year (2013) and I just wanted to note that my story is just about the same. I was born (1995) with brain tumors but no one identified my tumors until I was about 12 years old with ridiculous migraines. When I got surgery in 2008 at UNC Chapel Hill I was inspired to become a neurosurgeon!
Glad to read this, Inspired :]
Oh im inspired to!! :] i’ve always wanted to be a neurosurgeon! my little brother had brain surgery a year ago and ever since, i knew this is what i wanted to be
sorry about that we all have problems. I hope he is getting better and wish him good luck 🙂
This has motivated me more then I already was; I am 16, and have been searching for jobs I thought I would be best suited for in the future. I chose neurosurgery to be my future career about three of four years ago and I really love learning about its properties. This little article has helped me to understand it a bit better and has done nothing but higher my want to become a neurosurgeon, thank you.
Hey, 17 here as well and I’m graduating 2012 too!! I can’t decide between Neurosurgeon or Cardiac surgeon. My dad just got a Coronal Angioplasty procedure (an alternative to bypass surgery) and its motivated me become a Cardiac Surgeon. If I train more, I could possibly aim for being a Cardiothoracic Surgeon, even though its the hardest/fewest of the surgeons. But, idk, wherever life takes me I guess.
What college/university did u go to? I’m thinking on going to UCSD it’s a medical school in San Diego.
KEEP ME POSTED love hearing everyone’s comments yay! all you inspire me and your stories 🙂 x LOLS
For all you apriring neurosurgeons out there, here is a link that has a ton of info and links to even more info. I love the site, and hope you can get something out of it.
I would love to be a neurosurgeon one day. I m very passionate about this career but I m scared of what, everybody is telling me, especially those who don’t know what it takes to be a neurosurgeon. I really would love to job shadow a neurosurgeon to actually know what they went through, because everybody is telling me different things about neurosurgeon and I’m really scared of what they are saying might affect my decision.
Possible yes, easy, not always. You have to be prepared for emergency surgeries, but the usually have multiple surgeons, annd they rotate on days, so yes, you have time off and kids are possible. : )
As is going out during the day. : )
Hope this helps