How To Become a Neurologist ?

How To Become a Neurologist ?

How To Become a Neurologist ?
Suman Adhikari

Neurology is a specialized field investigating illnesses associated with the human nervous system, encompassing the brain, spinal cord, and the intricate network of nerves and muscles. Neurologists are medical experts in this discipline who focus on diagnosing and treating particular medical disorders arising from issues within the nervous system's functionality. 

These disorders span a wide range, from Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Cerebral Palsy to coordination difficulties and injuries. In this article, we will delve into the pathway to becoming a neurologist, gaining insights into this field and the essential educational programs available for aspiring neurologists.

What is a Neurologist?

A neurologist is a medical doctor specializing in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders related to the nervous system. The nervous system includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, and it plays a crucial role in controlling various bodily functions and processes.

Neurologists are highly trained to identify and address various neurological conditions.

Key preparation tips for MBBS

Roles and responsibilities of a neurologist:

  1. Diagnosis and Assessment: Neurologists are responsible for conducting thorough medical evaluations and assessments of patients presenting with neurological symptoms. They use clinical history, physical examinations, and specialized diagnostic tests to diagnose accurately.
  2. Treatment Planning: Neurologists develop individualized treatment plans for their patients once a diagnosis is established. Treatment may involve medications, lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, or surgical interventions, depending on the specific condition.
  3. Medication Management: Neurologists prescribe and manage medications to address various neurological disorders. They monitor medication effectiveness, adjust dosages as needed, and educate patients about potential side effects.
  4. Neurological Testing: Neurologists order and interpret specialized tests, such as electroencephalograms (EEGs), electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies, and neuroimaging (MRI, CT scans) to aid in diagnosis and treatment planning.
  5. Patient Education: Neurologists educate patients and their families about their condition, treatment options, and prognosis. They guide managing symptoms and improving overall quality of life.
  6. Monitoring Progress: Neurologists regularly follow up with patients to assess treatment progress and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. They track changes in symptoms and side effects to ensure optimal care.
  7. Emergency Intervention: Neurologists may be called upon to provide emergency care for patients experiencing acute neurological crises, such as strokes or seizures. Rapid intervention is often critical in these situations.

Process to Become a Neurologist 

MSc Clinical Neurology 

MSc Neuropharmacology 

MRes Neuropharmacology 

Graduate Certificate in Brain Disorder Management 

MD Neurological Science

MPhil Neurological Science 

MSc Advanced Professional Practice in Neurological Rehabilitation

Associate of Arts in Neurodiagnostic Technology  

Master of Neurological  Rehabilitation

Step 1: Pursue a Pre-Medical Undergraduate Degree

To embark on your journey towards becoming a neurologist, you must complete a pre-medical undergraduate degree. Most students opt for a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in subjects like Biology, Chemistry, or Physics. Ensure you excel in your coursework, as your academic performance will be crucial in gaining admission to medical school.

Step 2: Clear the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)

To gain entry into medical school in India, you must pass the NEET, a national-level entrance examination. NEET assesses your knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics. A competitive score is essential to securing a reputable medical college seat.

Also, See 7 Last-minute Preparation Tips for NEET 2023

Step 3: Pursue an MBBS Degree

Upon completing the NEET and securing admission, you will enroll in a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program. This rigorous five-and-a-half-year program, including a one-year internship, equips you with a solid foundation in medical science.

Step 4: Gain Clinical Experience

During your internship year, you'll work in various hospital departments, gaining invaluable hands-on experience. This period helps you understand the practical aspects of patient care and medical practice.

Step 5: Appear for the NEET-PG Exam

After completing your MBBS degree and internship, you must clear the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for Postgraduate (NEET-PG) to secure admission to a postgraduate program in medicine.

Step 6: Pursue a Doctor of Medicine (DM) or Diplomate of National Board (DNB) in Neurology

Neurology is a specialization within the field of medicine. To become a neurologist, you must pursue a DM in Neurology or a DNB in Neurology. These programs typically span three years and provide comprehensive training in diagnosing and treating neurological disorders.

Step 7: Complete Residency and Specialization

During your DM or DNB program, you'll undergo a residency, during which you'll gain extensive clinical experience under the guidance of experienced neurologists. You'll diagnose and treat patients with various neurological conditions, further honing your skills.

Step 8: Obtain State Medical Council Registration

After completing your neurology specialization, you must register with the State Medical Council in the state where you intend to practice. This registration is a legal requirement to practice medicine.

Career as a Neurologist

In India, the average annual salary for a Neurologist typically ranges from INR 20 to 25 lakhs, though experienced and specialized neurologists may earn more. Neurologists in India find employment in various sectors, including government hospitals, armed forces medical services, private hospitals like Fortis and Max, and prestigious institutions like AIIMS. 

They also have opportunities to work in private practice, medical colleges, and specialized hospitals focusing on spine and brain care. A career in neurology offers diverse employment options and the chance to make a meaningful impact on patient's lives while earning a competitive salary, especially in metropolitan areas and with advanced qualifications.

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What educational background is required to become a neurologist?

To become a neurologist, you must complete a pre-medical undergraduate degree, followed by a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program. Afterward, pursuing a Doctor of Medicine (DM) or Diplomate of National Board (DNB) in Neurology would be best.

How long does it take to become a neurologist in India?

Becoming a neurologist in India typically takes 11-12 years after completing your pre-medical education. This includes the undergraduate degree, MBBS, and the DM or DNB program in Neurology.

What is the role of the NEET exam in becoming a neurologist?

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is a critical examination for aspiring neurologists in India. It is used to gain admission to undergraduate (MBBS) and postgraduate (DM or DNB) medical programs.

Can I specialize further within the field of neurology?

After becoming a neurologist, you can pursue subspecialties within neurology, such as pediatric neurology, neurocritical care, or neuro-oncology. These require additional training through fellowships.

What are the major employment sectors for neurologists in India?

Neurologists can work in various settings, including government hospitals, private hospitals, medical colleges, private practice, and specialized hospitals focusing on neurology and related fields. The choice of sector can impact your work environment and salary.

Are there opportunities for neurologists to engage in research or teaching?

Yes, many neurologists in India are involved in clinical research and teaching. They contribute to advancements in the field and educate the next generation of medical professionals through roles in medical colleges and research institutions.

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