Do you have a deep interest in the brain, spine, nerves, muscles and like serving people? If yes, you may consider a career as a Neurologist.
Neurologists are highly trained doctors who examine, diagnose, and treat disorders and injuries of the central nervous system. They recognize the early signs of nervous dysfunction, determine its cause and location, and prescribe its potential treatment.
To become a Neurologist in Australia, you have to first become a registered medical practitioner and get specialist training in Neurology. Gain a fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to improve your job chances.
Do you want a career where you can use your investigation skills and interest to treat neurological disorders in people? The article explores the role and discusses personal, academic, and training requirements, earning potential, job opportunities, and steps to get started in this career.
1. What Is Neurology?
The term “Neurology” is consisting of two words, "neuron” or nerve, and "logia", "the study of". Neurology is part of medical science. The field of Neurology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to the central and peripheral nervous systems.
The neurological practice majorly depends on neuroscience which involves using imaging and electrical studies such as CT scans, MRI scans, and EEG to treat neurological disorders.
2. Who Is A Neurologist?
Neurologists are medical doctors who identify and treat conditions related to the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.
They have in-depth knowledge of the cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, digestive systems, and infectious diseases. This is important as the diseases in these systems can directly affect the brain or can evolve and extend towards the brain.
Neurologists use their remarkable reasoning abilities and neuroscience knowledge to identify the minor signs of neurological disorders. Even though they do not perform surgeries, they attempt to treat neurologic diseases through rehabilitation, physical therapy, and medication.
3. What Does A Neurologist Do?
Our brain is the central processing unit of the body. Any disease that impacts it may adversely impact the overall health and normal functioning of the body.
Neurology is a highly admired and sophisticated medical speciality as it deals with the complexities of the nervous system that includes the brain.
Neurologists inspect, study, and analyse neurological disorders and find the best medical solutions to treat them.
Here is a comprehensive list of tasks and duties neurologist performs as part of their role:
Observe symptoms and details to treat the neurological disease in its initial stages and save the life of the patient
Perform a neurological exam to identify the cause and location of the problem within the nervous system
Use advanced and precise imaging medical tools such as Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging for safe and effective diagnosis and treatment
Examine patients to determine the type and extent of injuries and illnesses of the human brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscle tissues.
Use molecular biology, electrophysiology, functional neuroimaging, etc. to treat muscle diseases and cognitive disorders that impact the behaviour and thinking of a person
Offer critical inputs to neurosurgeons before performing any major surgical treatment on the brain
Undertake lab tests, diagnostic procedures, and analyse test reports to make diagnoses
Prescribe and manage drugs and remedial measures
Maintain a record of the patient’s medical history and condition
Inform transmissible diseases to public health and immigration authorities
Refer patients to get admitted to hospitals
Take the opinion of medical specialists to arrive at the best treatment and procedure
Receive referrals from emergency room personnel or non-specialist physicians to diagnose and offer treatment for patients with neurological issues
4. What Skills Do I Need To Become A Neurologist?
Identifying and treating nervous system disorders can be an emotionally and physically challenging undertaking. It demands a specific set of skills to perform the job perfectly.
Do you want to know whether you are ideal for this role? Check out the following desirable skills that make a successful neurologist.
Able to connect with patients
Able to work under pressure
Good understanding of anatomy and physiology of the human body
Knowledge of the motor and neural pathways and functions of the nervous system
5. Neurologist Qualifications In Australia
To become a neurologist in Australia, you must first graduate with a Medical degree and complete a minimum of six years of specialist training in surgery of the head, nerves, and spinal cord.
Gaining a fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is recommended.
Here are the steps to qualify as a neurologist in Australia:
Attend an accredited Medical School and complete a Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine degree to become a Medical Practitioner
Register with the Medical Board of Australia
Complete RACP basic training and pass written and clinical examination to qualify as a physician
Complete specialist training in neurology as RACP advanced training in clinical neurology
Successful completion of the above training programmes enables you to become a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
6. Steps To Become A Neurologist In Australia
Are you interested in becoming a Neurologist? Follow these steps to work as a professional neurologist in Australia:
Step 1: Develop A Solid Base In Neuroanatomy
Before gaining the Neurologist qualification, it is beneficial to learn about the structure and organization of the human nervous system. Getting knowledge of neuroanatomy will make it easier to study neurological disorders and diseases.
It educates students about how thoughts, behaviour, and emotions are produced and how the information transfers from one nerve cell to another.
Step 2: Become A Medical Practitioner
Neurologists in Australia must be registered with the Medical Board of Australia to offer professional services. To accomplish this, attend a Medical School and earn a “Bachelor of Medical Studies”/ “Doctor of Medicine” degree.
During the course, students work in teams to solve health and disease-related issues. They develop the essential skills, knowledge, and confidence to excel in healthcare.
Several reputed universities such as Adelaide University, UNSW, Bond University, University of New Castle, University of Western Australia, offer this course to students in Australia.
With a medical practitioner qualification, get registered with the Medical Board of Australia.
Step 3: Complete RACP Basic And Advanced Training
Next, complete a RACP basic training and pass a written and clinical exam to qualify for a physician role.
Step 4: Undertake a Specialist Training
To work in neurology, it is mandatory to complete a RACP Advanced Training in Neurology. The training provides extensive hands-on practical exposure in clinical neurology to work in public and private hospitals and medical organizations.
Step 5: Gain Fellowship of RACP
All trainees who have completed the specialist training and hold a current medical registration are invited to become fellow members of the RACP. This allows you to use the 'FRACP' post-nominal based on their training pathway.
7. Professional Bodies Related To Neurology In Australia
The Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN) is a professional body dedicated to the practice of neurology. The association provides an elaborate structure to enable neurologists and neuroscientists to interact and advance their knowledge of the nervous system.
It offers expert advice on neurological disorders and supports people with neurological disorders at the government level. The ANZAN is closely associated with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. It provides specialist training, practice guidelines and monitors the training of neurologists.
8. What Conditions Do Neurologists Treat?
Neurologists treat a variety of conditions that affect the nervous system including the brain, peripheral nerves, spinal cord, and cerebrovascular system.
They have undergone specialized training to diagnose and treat the following symptoms and illnesses of the nervous system:
Immobility and weakness in muscles
Dizziness or Loss of consciousness
Body coordination problems
Loss of balance
Loss of memory
Motor neuron disease
Spinal or Central nervous system injuries
Brain infections or Brain abscesses
9. Where Does A Neurologist Work?
Numerous employment options are available to neurologists who hold a RACP Fellowship and specialist registration by the appropriate authorities.
Some of these include:
Multi-specialty clinical settings
Staff specialist in public and private hospitals
Full time or part-time private practice in a medical office
Combination of private and public hospital practice
Clinical research organizations
A neurologist can also work as a general practitioner in rural regions to serve the community or as a specialist paediatrician for children and their families.
10. Work Conditions Of A Neurologists
While working in the above settings, neurologists use various high-tech equipment and diagnostic capabilities to offer the best diagnosis and treatment. Some may work alongside other health professionals and specialists in a critical care team.
In the “Neurologists” profession, there are no fixed working hours. They may have to spend long hours with patients suffering from severe and life-threatening diseases.
They are also called to assess the status of a patient in emergency care units. The job also requires travelling to see patients in different settings, including hospitals, clinics, and homes.
11. How Long Does It Take To Become A Neurologist In Australia?
To become a neurologist, you need to take the following learning route:
Six years to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree from an accredited Medical School and become a doctor
Six years of RACP basic training, followed by a written and clinical assessment
Three years RACP accredited advanced training in clinical neurology
On completing the above qualification, you can apply for a Fellowship of RACP. Thus, it can take 15 years to become a neurologist in Australia.
12. Job Prospects Of Neurologists In Australia
Latest advancements in imaging and molecular science, together with a greater understanding of disease mechanisms are opening diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities in neurology.
With very few “practising neurologists” in Australia, it is a good time for aspiring neurologists to enter this profession. Moreover, excellent research and training opportunities in neurology and neuroscientific indicate favourable job prospects in this profession.
According to the national Job Outlook website, “Neurologist” is a small occupation, and the number of professionals has remained stable in the past few years. The government projects “Strong” growth for Neurologists in the coming years.
The Health Care and Social Assistance industry is the industry that recruits these professionals. Neurologists are employed in various parts of Australia, with New South Wales having the maximum share of workers.
76% of workers work full-time for 50 hours per week which is higher than the industrial average of 44 hours. The average age of the neurology workforce is 45 years old. Out of the total workers, 32% of them are female.
13. How Much Does A Neurologist Earn In Australia?
The average neurologist salary is AU$155,051 per year or equivalent to $2,976 per week in Australia.
The starting salary can be lower but increases with experience.
Early career Neurologist with 1 to 4 years of experience earns AU$117,916
Mid-career Neurologist with 5 to 9 years of experience earns AU$155,991
Experienced Neurologist with 10 to 19 years of experience earns AU$198,659
Top paying Australian cities for Neurologists are as follows:
Canberra: $276,249 per year
Newcastle: $180,061 per year
Adelaide: $121,615 per year
Sydney: $117,972 per year
Melbourne: $113,492 per year
The job of a Neurologist can be stressful and demanding yet fulfilling and meaningful.
Aspiring neurologists should know that the road to this profession requires years of hard work, demanding internships, laborious residency, passing several levels of examinations and licensing, and continued learning.
If you are determined to commit to this rigorous and lengthy educational track, follow the above steps and achieve your dream role.
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