08 May 2013

What Are You, a Brain Surgeon?

People often joke about brain surgeons' intelligence, assuming that because they operate on brains, they must be smart. The fact is that it's true. However, "smart" is a relative term. While it may be true that neurologists need a certain level of mental prowess, it doesn't mean that neurologists are smarter than average people. Becoming a brain surgeon requires a certain kind of intelligence. A career in neuroscience demands the ability to work in high-pressure situations and think rationally through life-threatening situations. This kind of intelligence differs from that needed for a career in business or teaching. While the mind of a brain surgeon is as complex as anyone else's, neurologists do need to meet certain prerequisites in order to be successful. The following outlines some of the characteristics shared by brain surgeons.


Neurologists must possess an inherent ability to think analytically and critically. Faced with thousands of different scenarios over the course of a career, a neurosurgeon must be able to figure out not only what's wrong with a patient's brain but how to resolve the issue. Analytical thinking encompasses taking an issue and analyzing it to find a solution, and in this case, brain surgeons have to master this skill. Otherwise, they won't be able to think through complex problems. The human
brain is a maze of information, and being able to work through it is a prerequisite for becoming a brain surgeon. Like everyone, neurologists don't always perform as well in every subject. Performing poorly in a certain subject doesn't preclude one from becoming a brain surgeon. As long as someone has the ability to learn new information daily and solve problems analytically, he or she should be successful as a neurosurgeon.

Education & Training

Those wishing to become brain surgeons should be aware that neurology requires a lot of post-secondary education. Brain surgeons spend between 11 and 16 years after high school training to become a neurologist, but the training doesn't stop once the finish medical school. Neurology demands constant learning as new information is discovered and practiced. In order to deal with this constant barrage of information, a brain surgeon should have a natural love of learning and the ability to retain sophisticated information. In addition to medical conditions and cures, brain surgeons need to know how to operate complex technology and perform in-depth research. People who don't enjoy learning new things will not excel in this field.

Side Effects

Besides the mental capabilities of being a brain surgeon, some outcomes will take a heavy emotional toll. Brain surgeons should be prepared for death, as operating on a human brain can lead to serious consequences even in routine procedures. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, "Physicians and surgeons must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding." Empathy is an important part of becoming a surgeon, especially when dealing with something as tenuous as the human brain.

Becoming a brain surgeon takes years of education, training and practice. It demands excellent coordination as well as outstanding mental faculties. The prerequisites for becoming a neurologist might sound demanding, but they are necessary to ensure that people receive quality care. Unless someone is able to stand for long periods of time, enjoys a high-pressure job and excels at mental prowess, he or she should reconsider becoming a surgeon. The compensation may be excellent, but a neurosurgeon requires intense aptitude that some people simply lack.

Jacob Stafford is a freelance writer who focuses on medical research, medical education and training, medical careers, medical record retrieval service, health & wellness, nutritional science, medical science and other kindred subjects.