Neurologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: January 10, 2022

A Neurologist, or Brain and Nerve Doctor, is responsible for examining and treating patients who experience disorders, illnesses and injuries that affect the nerves, spinal cord and brain. Their duties include conducting physical examinations, collecting spinal fluid or other samples and running neurological tests to identify problems.

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Neurologist duties and responsibilities

Neurologists have a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including:

  • Diagnose and treat various neurological conditions
  • Consult with patients on aftercare and long-term health management strategies
  • Monitor patients’ progress and adjust treatments or medication as needed
  • Prescribe treatments or medication best suited to improve the patient’s condition
  • Order tests and interpret results in order to determine the best treatment options
  • Attend training and seminars to stay up to date on the latest trends and developments in neurology
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What does a Neurologist do?

Neurologists work at hospitals and private practices to create and administer treatment plans for a patient’s nervous system. They treat issues like sleep disorders, chronic pain, epilepsy, head trauma and infections. They examine a patient’s vision, movement, speech, coordination, reflexes and sensation levels to determine possible neurological causes of their symptoms. Neurologists measure and monitor the brain’s electrical activity to identify abnormalities. They educate patients on their condition and provide them with information about support services and assistive technology that could improve their quality of life. They identify warning signs for tumors and refer patients to Surgeons and Oncologists.

Neurologist skills and qualifications

To be successful, Neurologists need the following skills and qualifications:

  • Current medical license
  • Ability to walk or stand for long periods of time
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Ability to work closely with a team of medical professionals
  • Accredited by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Completed a three-year residency in an accredited neurology program
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong diagnostic and decision-making skills

Neurologist salary expectations

A Neurologist makes an average of $212,704 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Neurologist education and training requirements

All Neurologists must complete medical school. Then, they need to complete a one-year internship in internal medicine followed by a three-year residency program in neurology. Residents must earn their state license to practice medicine by passing all three steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Neurologists also need to be board certified in internal medicine and neurology. Some Neurologists also choose to complete a one- to two-year fellowship program in the particular neurology specialization they wish to work in, such as epilepsy or neurophysiology. Those who work in a specialization need an additional board certification to practice.

Neurologist experience requirements

Entry-level Neurologists already have four years of experience from their residencies, so additional experience is not required. Neurologists who have completed a fellowship usually have five to six years of clinical experience. Employers seeking a senior-level Neurologist should look for someone with at least seven years of experience.

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Frequently asked questions about Neurologists


What is the difference between a Neurologist and a Psychiatrist?

Neurologists and Psychiatrists can both work with disorders of the brain, but they have a different focus. Psychiatrists focus on mood and behavioral disorders that they can treat with a combination of medication and mental health counseling. They consider chemical imbalances in a patient’s brain as opposed to Neurologists who look for physical defects and nerve deterioration. Neurologists mostly deal with disorders that have a direct impact on the patient’s physical condition. Some Neurologists and Psychiatrists specialize in neuropsychiatry during medical school, choosing to focus on the impact of the central nervous system on mental disorders.


What are the qualities of a good Neurologist?

Good Neurologists are diligent and hardworking, willing to pursue multiple avenues of treatment or testing. Neurological disorders can be difficult to diagnose, so a Neurologist must be able to logically consider various options and systematically rule out medical conditions until they find the route cause. They should have good interpersonal skills that they use to communicate with patients and help them accurately describe their symptoms. Successful Neurologists develop strong relationships with their patients to treat chronic nerve problems and monitor their progress over time.


What are the daily duties of a Neurologist?

Neurologists spend their time in a clinical office meeting with patients and reviewing their rest results. They review medical histories and interview patients using intake forms to asses their initial symptoms. Neurologists then complete testing procedures to confirm their diagnosis. Common procedures for Neurologists include collecting spinal fluid or administering medication through lumbar punctures, recording nerve sensitivity with electromyography and placing transmitters for deep brain stimulation treatment. Neurologists interpret imaging and other test results then meet with patients to discuss their condition. They update the patient’s chart, make referrals when necessary and write prescriptions for immediate treatment.


What are the different types of Neurologists?

Neurology has several subspecialties that Neurologists can choose to focus on depending on the types of treatments or disorders that interest them. Sleep medicine is a prevalent type of neurology where the Neurologist spends time observing a patient’s sleep patterns and brain activity during the sleep cycle. Other common neurology subspecialties include pain management neurology, neuromuscular medicine, vascular neurology, neural rehabilitation and palliative care. Neurologists can also choose to specialize with a particular age group, such as children who need developmental neurology treatments or elderly patients looking to preserve nerve function or slow degenerative nerve problems.

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