The physicians specialized in neurosurgery are among the best paid professionals in the whole economy and especially in the healthcare system. The private sector, the consultant position, the huge experience and the number of specialties of practice provide the highest salaries for this occupation. In case you were wondering “how much does a neurosurgeon make?”, you should know that, in USA, the average neurusurgeon salary is about $180/hour or $380,000/year, according to payscale.com.
Neurosurgeon Job Description
The neurosurgeons are highly trained physicians who perform medical operations on the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. To be more precise, they are specialized in treating the disorders of the nervous system by using surgical procedures.
They use various instruments and appliances to perform major incisions in order to remove or repair a damaged part of this essential system of the human body. For example, they remove tumors of the brain or spine, treat stroke, epilepsy, infections, hemorrhages, meningitis, traumas of the head or of the spinal cord, etc.
In treating the illnesses that affect the nervous system, these professionals work with other healthcare employees, like nurses, technicians, medical assistants and even other physicians, who are specialized in other fields, like: pediatrics, cardiology, oncology, etc.
But the neurosurgeons don’t exclusively perform surgeries; just like the other physicians, they examine the patients, advise them about how to treat or prevent disorders, and especially how to recover after the operations; they also diagnose the illnesses and conditions, and even perform some tests.
Some of these surgeons are specialized in treating certain patients (pediatric or geriatric neurosurgery) or certain parts of the nervous system (brain surgery, spinal surgery, neurovascular surgery, etc.); these specialties of practice significantly increase the salary for a neurosurgeon.
Their job is not only very complex and difficult, but also very demanding, because these professionals often work under pressure, since they deal many times with life-or-death situations, when they have to make decisions very quickly.
The complexity of their work is also given by the numerous skills that they must have, like:
- patience – they must talk to their patients and offer them advice;
- meticulousness – since they work with things so tinny and essential, like the nerves, they must pay attention to every detail;
- proficiency – they must be very competent in their chosen fields, because any mistake can result in severe damages and even death;
- endurance – because some surgeries can last numerous hours, these professionals must be able to be focused and work without interruption for long periods of time;
- excellent manual dexterity – as they work with their hands most of the time, during the surgical procedures;
- being able to work under pressure – many cases are severe and the patients need to be urgently operated;
- excellent time management skills – the working days are usually very busy as there are, in general, many patients; their health situations must be evaluated quickly and they also must be prioritized, according to the severity of their problems; these surgeons must properly and quickly estimate the duration of every task;
- being able to communicate very well with other people – not only because they have to work together with nurses, technicians and other physicians and surgeons (anesthesiologists, neurologists, oncologists, etc.), but also because they must talk to their patients and even with their families, who are usually worried and frightened by the events that sent them to these doctors, and also by the operations and their consequences;
- eagerness to learn – as this field requires continuous self-education, in order to find out all the latest scientific findings in their domain and specialties.
What Does a Neurosurgeon Do ?
Most of the responsibilities of these professionals are common to all physicians and, especially, to all surgeons. Many of these responsibilities are presented in the paragraphs above.
So, the most important neurosurgeon duties are:
- examining the patients;
- advising them on how to prevent, treat or deal with some disorders, and how to recover after the medical operations;
- asking them about their medical history;
- diagnosing the illnesses and health problems that are within their competence;
- performing tests that help them to diagnose the problems;
- operating the patients – when necessary;
- monitoring the operated patients – in order to see how they recover after the surgical procedures;
- continually educating themselves – in order to keep abreast of all the scientific discoveries related to the nervous system and surgery.
How to Become a Neurosurgeon
The path to becoming a neurosurgeon varies between countries. But, due to the high complexity of this job, its applicants must complete numerous years of study and practice.
In the USA, more than fourteen years of post-secondary study are required for this position. After completing the four years of a college, the candidate has to follow an accredited medical school (which means other four years of study); then, one year of internship is necessary, followed by a residency program, which lasts for about six or seven years. The specialization is, in general, optional and it can be realized in a fellowship, where this physician receives advanced training in the desired specialty area, like: neurosurgical oncology, skull/spinal/vascular/pediatric neurosurgery, radiosurgery, etc..
In the United Kingdom, those who want to become neurosurgeons must, first of all, become physicians. For this, they have to follow the courses of a medical school (for four to six years) and earn a medical degree, like MBBS. Then, they need to complete the UK Foundation Programme, which lasts for two years and during which they train in various specialties (including surgery) and healthcare settings (hospitals, clinics, etc.), under the supervision of experienced doctors. After this, they must complete the specialty training for neurosurgery, which lasts, in general, eight years.
Neurosurgeon Education, Training and Certifications
As with any other physician and surgeon, the education required for practicing this job is gained during the medical school and also during the subsequent stages, which are, however, focused on practice:
- in the USA: internship, residency and fellowship;
- in the UK: Foundation Programme and specialty training.
The necessary training is acquired during the previously mentioned stages and even during the last years of the medical school, when all the students and graduates work with patients in various healthcare settings, being supervised by experienced physicians.
Aside from the required education and training presented above, in order to earn the right to legally practice neurosurgery, the candidates for this job must earn these certifications:
- In the USA, as with any physician and surgeon, these professionals focused on the nervous system must be licensed. The board certification is not mandatory, but it helps getting a better job.
- In the UK, all the doctors must be specialty registered and hold a “license to practise”.
Pros and Cons of Being a Neurosurgeon
The neurosurgeon jobs are attractive because:
- they offer the huge satisfaction of saving lives and recovering the health of this vital system of the human body, the nervous system;
- they use sophisticated instruments and high-tech medical equipment and devices;
- these specialists are highly esteemed, due to the importance, difficulty and complexity of their profession;
- they are among the best paid occupations in the healthcare system and even in the whole economy; the neurosurgeon pay per hour in the USA is about $180 on average, which exceeds the income of the dentists (about $115/hour in 2016) and the one of the podiatrists (approximately $83/hour).
The main disadvantages of this job are:
- working under pressure many times, because many cases are urgent;
- dealing often with patients very injured and with a very poor mental state;
- long, difficult and expensive education and training path for earning the right to legally practice this job;
- standing for long periods of time, as their main duty is to operate the patients who need this, and some operations take many hours.
Neurosurgeon Job Growth
Thanks to the numerous scientific discoveries in the related fields (anatomy, physics, chemistry, radiology, computers, oncology, surgery, neurology, etc.), this medical career is expected to continually improve and develop.
Since new investments are and will be made in the operating rooms, by acquiring sophisticated appliances and medical equipment, there will probably be more health settings for these professionals and, as a result, the demand for these surgeons specialized on the nervous system will grow.
As people are more and more stressed, get old and eat unhealthy food, their risk of developing a disorder or illness of the nervous system – and even cancer – increases so much. Therefore, the demand for the services of these professionals will probably grow.
Since their specialty deals with health problems that largely affect the aging baby boomers, the employment prospects are very good for these physicians, as indicated on bls.gov. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2014 and 2024, the employment of all physicians and surgeons in the United States is estimated to grow with 14%.
In 2017, it was estimated that in the United States of America, out of one thousand physicians, approximately seven are neurosurgeons. If their number will grow faster than the number of physicians, their percentage is possible to grow to 0.8 – 0.9 % in the years ahead.
As with any other wage in the healthcare system, the neurosurgeon wages vary depending on these factors:
- level of experience;
- region of employment – country, state, town;
- sector of employment – the private sector often offers higher salaries than the public one;
- number of hours worked in a month;
- number and type of specialties of practice – for example, the pediatric neurosurgeon salary differs from the wage of a neuro-oncology surgeon.
Neurosurgeon Salary in USA
In the United States of America, the average pay for neurosurgeons is about $380,000 per year, which is equivalent to a monthly wage of about $32,000 and an hourly income of about $180 per hour, considering that a full-time employee works 2,080 hours during a year.
In the USA, the most experienced such professionals can earn an annual income of $775,000, while the average pay for the entry level is somewhere in the region of $85,000/year. Those who are specialized in treating the spine are paid a little better – their average income is approximately $385,000 per year, while those focused on dealing with the brain earn a mean annual wage of $383,000; in the pediatric specialty, the salaries are a little lower: about $363,000/year on average.
Neurosurgeon Salary in Canada
In Canada, the average neurosurgeon salary is around 294,000 CAD (Canadian dollars) per year, which is equivalent to about 225,000 USD (US dollars) per year; the corresponding monthly income is 24,500 CAD.
The best paid of these professionals in Canada earn more than 550,000 CAD/year, while the lowest salary for this position is somewhere in the region of 100,000 CAD/year. Expressed in US dollars, the wages paid for these highly trained specialists varies between $77,000 and $420,000 per year, interval which is pretty close to the one earned in the United States.
Neurosurgeon Salary in Australia
The persons wondering “how much does a neurosurgeon make in Australia?” should know that the average salary for this occupation in this country ranges between 50,000 AUD and 200,000 AUD. In US dollars, these professionals would earn from 38,000 USD to 150,000 USD. This means that they are paid much lower than their fellows from USA.
Neurosurgeon Salary in UK
In the United Kingdom, the average wage of the physicians specialized in neurosurgery is estimated to be somewhere around £93,000 per year, that is approx. 117,000 USD/year or 9,750 USD/month. At the beginning of their career, they earn about £40,000/year.
The highest wages for this occupation are paid to the most experienced such professionals, to those working in the private sector and to those who work in consultant positions; their average annual income is over £400,000 (500,000 USD).
The neurosurgeon job is one of the most demanding, respected and well-paid positions in the healthcare system and even in the whole economy. The two factors that mostly affect the neurosurgeon salaries are: experience and number of specialties of practice.
The country that offers the highest wages for this profession is the Unite States of America, where the average pay for this position is around $380,000/year. Therefore, it’s very easy to earn a six-figure income in this job. But money isn’t the greatest reward of this occupation – it’s the huge satisfaction that you gain from saving lives and recovering the nervous health of your patients.