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Neuropathologist: Education and Career Information

It can be difficult understanding diseases that affect the brain, nerves and spine. These three area are very specific and essential to the human body. This is the job of a neuropathologist. These are physicians that interact with patients and usually conduct research to find out the answers to the issues.

What does a neuropathologist do?

Neuropathologists work with neurologists in the fight of diseases against the brain and central nervous system. This is a role that works to assist the neurologist by providing test results that can help lead to a diagnosis. This is a lab-heavy position. Neuropathologists also work to identify and treat diseases that are affecting patients and have no immediate explanation. A neuropathologist can take samples of tissue, tell whether or not the patient has a disease, how advanced the disease is, and whether there are other diseases at work. You will find neuropathologists at hospitals and other medical settings. This is a lucrative position that can be rewarding financially, but can be stressful.

How much does a neuropathologist earn?

According to Glassdoor, neuropathologists make between $235,000 and $271,000 on average. This is based on education, licensure, where the role works and other underlying factors. This role is growing in demand, as the medical field continues to go through transition.

What types of skills are needed to become a neuropathologist?

There are a number of skills required for a person to become successful as a neuropathologist:

Reading and writing: Strong reading skills are needed to comprehend any research and data gathered. A neuropsychologist must be able to write clearly for a number of audiences to disseminate information.

Critical Thinking: A neuropathologist must use logic and reasoning to come to sound conclusions after identifying different types of diseases. They must be able to determine whether or not the present disease is also at risk for another underlying issue.

Research skills: A neuropathologist must have strong research skills in order to gather and understand the data. Research is a large component of being successful in this position.

Problem-Solving: Having problem-solving skills is a must. A neuropsychologist must be able to assess and decipher problems, thinking quickly. There must be a high attention to detail, and they must be able to work well with others.

Communication: Communication is a large part of being successful in this position. Although this role does not work directly with patients, neuropathologist must be able to effectively communicate with a number of physicians in a timely manner.

Time Management: A neuropathologist must be able to prioritize new developments and work under extreme pressure to meet deadlines and get answers to questions being asked.

Internship Requirements

Neuropathologists have at least 3-5 years in residency, beyond the initial internship requirements of their undergraduate program. This is a very hands-on, important time for the aspiring neuropathologist to gain work experience in the field.

Education Requirements

There are a number of steps to be taken in order to become a neuropathologist. The first thing to note is that this is a medical-based position, and the neuropathologist is a doctor. This means the level of education far surpasses the standard four-year program. The student will want to obtain a bachelor’s degree with a major that has a strong science component. Coursework in undergrad usually consists of chemistry, biology, and physics. When getting to the end of the program, students start preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which is required in order to get into medical school.

Once the student has been accepted into the medical degree program, it becomes very intense. The first two years of medical school explores the systems of the body and neurological disorders. The second two years of the program, students will have practical clinical work as they complete clerkships in various areas. Students interested in becoming a neuropathologist will study neurological disorders in depth.

After earning the medical degree, the student must complete a residency prior to getting their medical license. It is during the residency where the student gets the most experience. They are allowed to practice under a supervising physician. Most of these residencies take four years. It has been suggested that students complete a fellowship in the field, which will open the doors to sub-specialization.

It is important to have a license to practice medicine, no matter what state you are in. The minimum requirements are having a medical degree, completing a residency and passing the USMLE. For those who cannot sit for the USMLE in one sitting, students can break up the way they approach the three-part exam. The first part of the exam is usually done when students are still in medical school. They take the second part when they complete their residency. Depending on what state the student lives in, they may have additional coursework and exams to take.

Once the medical student obtains their license, they must stay on top of the role because there are a number of continuing education credits needed to renew the license. These requirements can be met via classes given online, or classes given in person.

After all of these requirements have been met, the student should become board certified in pathology. This requires sitting for an exam given by the American Board of Pathology. Students will also obtain the sub-specialty of neuropathology. Proof of training is needed.

This is a very lucrative position that can work to someone’s advantage if they would rather be in the back instead of front and center working with patients. Neuropathologists are always working on some new development, or have a number of new diseases they have realized. This is a very important role in the field of medicine. If you are someone that wants to make a difference and enjoy working in the science of it all, this could be the right career path for you.

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