What Differences Are There Between a Neurosurgeon and a Neurologist?


Quick Answer

Neurologists and neurosurgeons experience different types and lengths of training, according to Life NPH, a support portal for people with a brain disorder called Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, or NPH. Both specialties train together up to a point and work in overlapping fields, but they perform very different specific job roles.

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Full Answer

Neurosurgeons and neurologists follow the same general collegiate and medical educational path, but in the years following medical school, their training diverges. Neurosurgeons go through one year of general surgery training after medical school, followed by five or six years of intensive training devoted to neurosurgery, explains Columbia Neurosurgical Associates. Neurosurgeons may also pursue fellowship training after residency. Neurosurgery programs are among the most competitive medical residencies to get into, with only about 100 to 200 residency positions available each year. Neurosurgeons perform invasive surgical procedures to resolve disorders afflicting the brain, nervous system and related anatomy.

Neurologists also treat disorders affecting the brain and related anatomy, but they do not perform surgery, Life NPH reports. A neurology patient may see a neurologist as a routine physician, receiving regular neurology exams and maintenance care from that doctor. Neurologists may choose to refer patients to neurosurgeons if a medical issue requires surgical intervention. After college, medical school, and the first, or intern, year of residency, neurologists complete three years of training in neurology. Neurologists may further specialize after this training period.

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