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Head masters

Neurologists are physicians who specialise in the field of ­neurology. They diagnose and treat diseases and ­conditions of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.

education Updated: Aug 13, 2013 15:12 IST
Hindustan Times
All India Institute of Medical Sciences,New Delhi,neurology

The lowdown

Neurologists are physicians who specialise in the field of ­neurology. They diagnose and treat diseases and ­conditions of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. Some of the conditions neurologists treat include epilepsy, headaches, ­cerebro-vascular accidents like ischemic and haemmorhagic and venous strokes, neuro infections, neuropathies, movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, sleep disorders, dementias, systemic ­disorders which affect the nervous system, muscle disorders, disorders of neuromuscular junction like mysthenia gravis, etc. Neurologists have to meticulously trace the ­medical history of the patient and minutely study the symptoms to arrive at a ­precise diagnosis. They also perform diagnostic tests, such as CAT scan, MRI and EEG, to name a few. Neurology is one of the most logical sciences of medicine. It also has the maximum scope for research and discovery as scientists are still unravelling the mysteries of the brain. Currently, there are not more than 1,000 ­neurologists in India. This is due to lack of ­specialised training institutions. It requires many years of dedicated ­training to become a qualified neurologist. It is a ­challenging career which requires utmost dedication, so one should be ready for long and intense hard work.

8.30am: Start work, attend ­teaching sessions, take a round of the ICU and interact with patients’ relatives
10am: Start OPD and attend ­emergencies. Check references from other departments
3pm: Have a quick bite, unwind a little and then oversee other work and read up on treatments
6.30 pm: Examine patients. If there are emergencies, then one doesn’t know when the day will end

The ­payoff
A neurologist in the government sector would start at around Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 90,000 a month
(post sixth pay commission) along with perks such as a house, ­non-practice allowance, travel allowance to attend medical ­education conferences. In the ­private sector, after a few years of experience, the pay can be ­anything from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh a month which can go up to Rs. 5 lakh a month with increasing experience and skills

* One should be able to diagnose ­ailments and prescribe a quick cure
* Ability to go beyond the call of duty and ensure a patient’s ­comfort and survival
* Endless patience to listen to and empathise with a patient
* Excellent communication and research skills
* A neurologist should be willing to work 24x7 with an ability to work under pressure

Getting there
Focus on science subjects in ­senior school, especially biology. Concentrate on botany and zoology at the plus-two level. You have to then give the entrance exam for a medical college. After your basic MBBS and one year compulsory internship training, you have to do your MD medicine/paediatrics for three years and then another three years for DM/DNB neurology. Seats at DM level are very limited – just 100 seats across the country. After that, most would like to do an ­additional fellowship in specialised fields like movement disorders, stroke, epilepsy, neuromuscular ­disorders, sleep and cognitive ­neurology

Institutes and URLs
* Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh;
* All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi;
* National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore;
* Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow;
* GB Pant Hospital, New Delhi;
* Madras Medical College, Chennai;
* Institute Of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences, New Delhi;
* Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS), Tirupati;
* Christian Medical College, Vellore;

Pros and cons
* It’s immensely satisfying to save lives and to cure people of their suffering
* It’s a much respected profession and doctors have a good status in society
* The money is good, and if you set up a private practice you can earn unlimited amounts of money
* Neurology case evaluation requires a lot of time, patience and correlation with radiology/lab services
* Very stressful as you have to spend long hours at work

A qualified and experienced neurologist will be able to diagnose most of the neurological disorders by tracing the medical history and dedicated investigations ---- Dr Vinay Goyal, professor of neurology, department of neurology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi

First Published: Aug 13, 2013 13:17 IST