What Should I Expect from a Neurology Residency?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Med school graduates must complete a residency training program.
Med school graduates must complete a residency training program.

There are lots of things that people can expect from a neurology residency. They will certainly learn more, work very hard, and hopefully attain the training they need to sit board examinations and begin work as a board certified neurologist. Other things along the way may vary based on the training program.

Students typically begin a neurology residency after becoming licensed as physicians. There’s often little to no gap in time between this licensing and joining a residency program, and people may have prepared slightly in their last year of training after medical school by participating in a neurology rotation. Most applying residents should know at this point what types of patients and illnesses neurology is most likely to involve. A short list could include disorders of the central nervous system, stroke, cerebral palsy, some cases of spinal paralysis, and conditions like epilepsy.

Residency is an important part of training for physicians that lasts from three to seven years.
Residency is an important part of training for physicians that lasts from three to seven years.

The average neurology residency is at least three years long, and those people who find they like a particular subspecialty of the field might spend more time studying as residents or fellows. Institutions that offer residencies are almost always attached to well known medical schools and tertiary hospitals that encourage the teaching hospital environment. Residents can expect to get paid a small amount, which usually won’t be sufficient to make a dent in any loans they’ve acquired, but will generally be enough to avoid having to borrow additional money. Rates of pay vary by institution and sometimes go up per year.

Neurology is a medical specialty that focuses on conditions of the brain and other parts of the human nervous system.
Neurology is a medical specialty that focuses on conditions of the brain and other parts of the human nervous system.

Hours per week are usually highest for first year residents and begin to decrease over the years. It is not uncommon, despite persistent efforts to change this by many in the medical community, for a first year neurology resident to work 80 hours or more per week. They can expect to be learning on their feet, seeing patients, and gaining greater responsibility to make minor decisions or to perform minor procedures. In addition to long hours on the job, residents can expect changes in shift that can make it difficult to determine when to sleep. A good investment for any resident is a light blocking shade or a pair of light blocking curtains, and some earplugs, so sleeping in the daytime is easier.

Students typically begin a neurology residency after becoming licensed as a physician.
Students typically begin a neurology residency after becoming licensed as a physician.

Types and status of patients may vary. Those participating in a neurology residency are likely to be part of the staff that works at any hospital outpatient neurology clinic that is offered. Yet they’ll also learn about and assist those who are hospitalized. As mentioned, ability to do more progresses as residents progress through the program. Third year or fourth year students may supervise incoming residents, and are typically looked to as the authority, especially in absence of a board certified neurologist. Each hospital decides and defines how far that authority extends.

First year neurology residents usually work the most hours, as the hours decrease each year.
First year neurology residents usually work the most hours, as the hours decrease each year.

At the termination of a neurology residency, people who are well-prepared should pass board examinations with no difficulty. When passed, a doctor may claim status as a neurologist and seek a position in that capacity. Doctors can also go into private practice in this specialty if they so choose.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

chrismd

Great post, interesting read, especially for residents and doctors like me who are interested in this. I have been preparing for boards and stumbled upon your site in my search for neuro articles for board review. I've been using other sites that have questions and trying to supplement with great reading like on your blog.

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    • Med school graduates must complete a residency training program.
      Med school graduates must complete a residency training program.
    • Residency is an important part of training for physicians that lasts from three to seven years.
      Residency is an important part of training for physicians that lasts from three to seven years.
    • Neurology is a medical specialty that focuses on conditions of the brain and other parts of the human nervous system.
      Neurology is a medical specialty that focuses on conditions of the brain and other parts of the human nervous system.
    • Students typically begin a neurology residency after becoming licensed as a physician.
      Students typically begin a neurology residency after becoming licensed as a physician.
    • First year neurology residents usually work the most hours, as the hours decrease each year.
      First year neurology residents usually work the most hours, as the hours decrease each year.
    • Neurologists are expected to have a deep understanding of the field after residency.
      Neurologists are expected to have a deep understanding of the field after residency.
    • Neurologists once used devices such as the metal Wartenberg wheel to test nerve reactions, but now used various other tools.
      Neurologists once used devices such as the metal Wartenberg wheel to test nerve reactions, but now used various other tools.
    • A neurology resident may work at a hospital outpatient neurology clinic.
      A neurology resident may work at a hospital outpatient neurology clinic.