How Much Money Does a Neurosurgeon Earn?

Neurosurgery, brain operation
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A neurosurgeon is a medical specialist who treats diseases and conditions affecting the nervous system, which includes the brain, the spine and spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves. Neurosurgeons provide non-operative and surgical treatment to patients of all ages.

Today, most neurosurgeons perform more spine than brain surgeries. Some neurosurgeons specialize in specific types of spinal problems, such as cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) disorders, spinal cord injury, or by age group.

Pediatric neurosurgeons treat infants and children, while other neurosurgeons specialize in disorders affecting adults.

How to Become a Neurosurgeon

To become a neurosurgeon, one must first complete the basic requirements of becoming a physician: a bachelor's degree, preferably in pre-med or other related biological, physical or chemical science, plus four years of graduate school in an accredited medical school to obtain an M.D. or D.O. degree.

After completing medical school and successfully obtaining a medical degree, med school graduates must then gain acceptance into a neurosurgery residency training program. There are dozens of accredited neurosurgery residency training programs nationwide. The average length is seven years, with a few programs at six years and many requiring eight years of training. Due to the length of the training program, most programs only accept one to three residents each year.

As you can see, if you are interested in becoming a physician specializing in neurological surgery, you have a long road ahead. Neurosurgery often attracts some of the best and the brightest of the medical field, due to the extremely challenging and dynamic nature of the field.

Neurosurgeons most commonly operate on patients who are victims of trauma to the head, in addition to treating patients with cancerous or benign brain tumors that need to be surgically removed.

However, there are a variety of other issues that are treated by neurosurgeons. New advancements and techniques are being developed to help neurosurgeons treat a number of neurological issues that can be traced to physiological abnormalities that can be repaired via surgery.

Neurosurgeon Income

Neurosurgeons are among the highest paid physicians and surgeons, due to the demanding nature of the work and also due to the extensive additional education and training required to become a neurosurgeon.

According to the MGMA Physician Compensation Report, the average income for neurosurgeons is about $775,968. The median or midpoint is $704,170. The top 10 percent earn up to $1,229,881.

Should You Pursue a Career as a Neurosurgeon?

If you are interested in a surgery career, you thrive in an extremely high-pressure environment and can endure the additional years of rigorous training, neurosurgery may be for you. Neurosurgeons must be available at all hours (within the call rotation schedule) for emergency surgeries. Neurosurgeons must have excellent critical thinking and analytical abilities, plus top surgical skills, optimal dexterity and be able to perform delicate surgeries. There are robotic devices, imaging equipment, and cameras that can assist with the precision of the procedures, so neurosurgeons must also be comfortable with the most advanced, complex technology as well.

Again, the exceptionally high pressure and stress level of neurosurgery careers probably cannot be over-emphasized, so one must be extremely level-headed, calm, and collected under extreme pressure.

However, the financial rewards are great, if you can deal with the high-risk and stress of the field, as are the intrinsic rewards of performing such advanced surgeries that are often life-saving.

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