How To Become A Neurologist In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how to become neurologists in Australia.


Do you have a deep interest in the brain, spine, nerves, and muscles and like serving people? If yes, 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 recognise the early signs of nervous dysfunction, determine its cause and location, and prescribe its potential treatment.


To become a Neurologist in Australia, you must 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.


This article explores the role and discusses personal, academic, and training requirements, including courses, degrees, earning (salary) potential, job opportunities, how long it takes, and steps to get started in this career.



1. What Is Neurology?


The term "Neurology" consists of two words, "neuron" or nerve, and "logia", "the study of". Neurology is part of medical science. The field of Neurology deals with diagnosing and treating disorders related to the central and peripheral nervous systems.


Neurological practice depends on neuroscience, which involves 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 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 affect the body's overall health and normal functioning.


Neurology is a highly admired and sophisticated medical speciality as it deals with the complexities of the nervous system, including 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, and functional neuroimaging to treat muscle diseases and cognitive disorders impacting a person's behaviour and thinking.

  • Offer critical inputs to neurosurgeons before performing any primary surgical treatment on the brain.

  • Undertake lab tests and 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 emotionally and physically challenging. It demands a specific set of skills to perform the job perfectly.


Are you ideal for this role? Check out the following desirable skills that make a successful neurologist.


  • Investigative tendency

  • Intellectual

  • Rational

  • Introspective

  • Methodical 

  • Analytical

  • Cooperative

  • Patient 

  • Empathetic 

  • Able to connect with patients

  • Teamwork

  • Professional ethics 

  • Critical thinking 

  • Counselling skills 

  • Communication skills

  • Administrative skills

  • Able to work under pressure

  • Good understanding of the 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 head, nerves, and spinal cord surgery. 


Gaining a fellowship from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is recommended. 


Here are the steps to qualify as a neurologist in Australia:


  1. Attend an accredited Medical School and complete a Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine degree to become a Medical Practitioner

  2. Register with the Medical Board of Australia

  3. Complete RACP basic training and pass the written and clinical examinations to qualify as a physician.

  4. Complete specialist training in neurology as RACP advanced training in clinical neurology

  5. Completing 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 organisation of the human nervous system. Knowledge of neuroanatomy will make studying neurological disorders and diseases easier.


Consider taking an undergraduate course in Neurology, i.e. Bachelor's in Neuroscience. The course explores the human nervous system at all levels. 


It educates students about thoughts, behaviour, and emotions 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, and the 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, completing a RACP Advanced Training in Neurology is mandatory. The training provides extensive hands-on practical exposure in clinical neurology to work in public and private hospitals and medical organisations.



Step 5: Gain Fellowship of RACP


All trainees who have completed the specialist training and have a current medical registration can become fellow members of the RACP. It allows them 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 conditions at the government level. The ANZAN is closely associated with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. It provides specialist training and practice guidelines and monitors the training of neurologists.



8. What Conditions Do Neurologists Treat?


Neurologists treat various conditions that affect the nervous system, including the brain, peripheral nerves, spinal cord, and cerebrovascular system.


They have undergone specialised training to diagnose and treat the following symptoms and illnesses of the nervous system:


  • Brain Tumour 

  • Immobility and weakness in muscles

  • Dizziness or Loss of consciousness 

  • Body coordination problems 

  • Loss of balance

  • Tingling

  • Numbness 

  • Confusion 

  • Genetic abnormalities

  • Loss of memory

  • Seizures

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Epilepsy

  • Motor neuron disease

  • Alzheimer's disease

  • Spinal or Central nervous system injuries 

  • Brain infections or Brain abscesses

  • Acute Headaches 

  • Strokes 

  • Tourette Syndrome



9. Where Does A Neurologist Work?


Numerous employment options are available to neurologists with a RACP Fellowship and specialist registration by the appropriate authorities.


Some of these include:


  • Multi-specialty clinical settings 

  • Universities to teach related subjects

  • 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 organisations 

  • Defence forces


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 Neurologist


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 spend long hours with patients suffering from severe and life-threatening diseases. 


They also 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 indicate favourable job prospects.


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 work 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's salary is AU$155,051 per year, 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

  • A mid-career neurologist with 5 to 9 years of experience earns AU$155,991

  • An 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



14. Conclusion


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 examinations, 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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