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My Educational & Career Path

Doctor - Neurosurgeon

By Samyuktha Movva To Mister Moss On 17th January, 2010

Table of Contents
i. ii. iii. iv. vi. vii. viii. viii. ix. x. xi. xii. Cover Table of Contents Job Description Education & Training Specialized Skills Earnings & Wages Work Environment Job Satisfaction/Stress Related Jobs & Self Employment Community Involvement, Personal Reflection Careers Studies Course Reflection Bibliography


Job Description
A doctor is a licensed medical practitioner, who practices medicine, which is wholly concerned with caring and maintaining human health, by the study, diagnosis and treatment of diseases or injuries. In today’s modern society, the world would not be able to function without the aid of doctors, who care for the well being of all humans. They are expected to be unbiased, professional and sympathetic to all people, regardless of age, race or gender. They are working humanitarians in our society. Diagnosing illnesses, charting, prescribing treatment and preventing future ailments are all part of what a doctor is expected to do for their patients. Doctors generally work in the public sector, but many also work for certain private sectors, such as the army, in pharmaceuticals and research institutions. This career offers the choice of remaining a general doctor or narrowing down to a subspecialty, which delves into the study of a particular component of medicine, such as cardiology, neurology or psychology. Neurosurgery, specifically, which I am interested in, deals with all disorders (this includes the study, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of them) that have to do with the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and the extracranial system. My grandmother is a big influence and motivation for me; she put so much, perhaps too much, faith in the promise of doctors, convinced they could fix her bodily ailments. I want to be able to fulfill the wishes of people like her. As well, I want to not only remain a doctor in any one place, but travel to India, and other countries


around the world, taking with me the skills I will have acquired from this career. I believe I could prove to be a benefit to the betterment of many lives. The desire to create meaningful differences in the lives of others motivates me further.

Education & Training
A high school diploma, undergraduate degree and graduation from a medical school are required to practice as a doctor. During or upon completion of medical school, several more years of residency is needed. Fellowship goes one step further, if one chooses to develop knowledge and practice further in a subspecialty. 1) 4 years, high school  Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, Physics and English are mandatory high school credits. 2) 3-4 years, undergraduate degree  The undergraduate degree can be in anything, so long as one graduates with honours and distinction.  Joint degrees (in science and humanities) are said to be preferred by medical schools. 3) 1 year, after acquiring undergraduate degree, this year gives time to apply for medical school. During this year, the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) should be written. 4) 3-4 years, medical school.  Medical school provides the postgraduate degree, the MD, which stands for “Doctor of Medicine,” which stems from the Latin Medicinae Doctor. 5) 2-6 years, residency  Residency is a stage in graduate medical school training, where a person already having acquired their medical degree, practices under the supervision of fully licensed and qualified physicians. 6) 1-3 years, fellowship  Fellowships offer the student the choice of being further trained in a subspecialty of medicine. My Personal Education & Training Pathway 1) 4 years, high school  Weston Collegiate Institute  Ontario Secondary School Diploma  International Baccalaureate Diploma (Biology HL, Chemistry HL, English H)


 SAT (Standard Admissions Test) 1) 4 years, undergraduate degree  Harvard University, degree in Medicine and Biochemistry 2) 1 year, post undergraduate, pre-medical school  MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)  Volunteer work with Doctors Without Borders 3) 4 years, medical school  Harvard University, MD, post graduate degree 4) 4 years, residency  Massachusetts General Hospital 5) 3 years, fellowship  Specializing in Neurosurgery, Neuroscience, surgical training According to the above outline, the time it will take me to complete my education and training for this career (minus the four years of high school) is 17 years. Tuition and Costs 1) 4 years, undergraduate  Harvard University  $34, 976 per year.  $34, 976 times 4 years = $139, 904 2) 4 years, medical school  Harvard University
Tuition Univ. Health Services Fee Blue Cross / Blue Shield Disability Insurance Matriculation Fee Educational Materials Fee Living Expenses Books and Supplies Loan Fees $45,050 $1,166 $1,788 $63 $35 $415 $18,600 $2,798 $85

 $70, 000 per year.  $70, 000 times 4 years = $280, 000 The total cost of education for all four years of undergraduate studies and all four years of postgraduate studies is $419, 904

Specialized Skills

The most important specialized skill needed to thrive in the field of medicine is the passion required of a lifelong learner. Medicine is very much a global area of study, and with major advancements on the medical frontier occurring every year all over the world, a doctor must be at the forefront, and willing to absorb the knowledge they will have constantly thrown at them. To be forever in love with information and knowledge is a skill that not many can acquire easily. A doctor must be interested in the world around them, and the people in it, to be able to function at their absolute best on the job. Doctors work solely for the benefit of the people, so there is really no “I” in this career. Knowing that, doctors must have excellent communication skills, which would allow them to engage their patients and better their lives to the highest degree. The ability to sympathize also falls under communication. One of the central ideas to the career as a doctor is the doctor-patient relationship. The standard of care that doctors are expected to provide to their patients is incredibly high. Doctors are expected to be confident, thorough, efficient and entirely competent with the duty they owe to their patients. The last skill necessary of a doctor, and certainly not the least important, is the ability to analyze and solve problems. Doctors can only be trained so much to a certain degree. They must take their years of knowledge and theoretical practices and apply it to the patients they meet. Every day, they are forced to deal with scenarios on a case-by-case basis,


because no ailment and diagnosis is the same as the prior one. Doctors must be quick on their feet, always adapting to the different situations they are placed in, and quick to focus and concentrate on any task at hand. These skills are especially true of neurosurgeons.

Earnings & Wages

All figures above are reported in US dollars.

The average annual salary of a neurosurgeon in the United States, as shown, is $537, 362. This is assumed to be the salary of accomplished neurosurgeons that have been practicing for at least ten years. This salary is definitely adequate to


support the lifestyle I hope to enjoy in the future. According to the Medical Group Management Association, which conducts annual surveys, the top ten percent of neurosurgeons are making over $1,000,000.

Work Environment
A neurosurgeon can work in one of three settings. They can work in a private office, meeting with patients previously appointed. They could also work in a hospital, seeing to and treating inpatients. Lastly, they could work in an academic institution, where they would spend their time carrying out research. Neurosurgeons, like all doctors, work in a very fast paced, high-stress work environment. Especially during residency and specialty surgical training, there is very minimal time allotted for sleep. Every moment of every single day counts towards something in this career. Often, doctors will work on-call, which means one is technically off work but they are still willing to provide service if needed. The on-call for a neurosurgeon varies, depending on what sort of setting they work in. For example, a neurosurgeon working in a hospital will likely be on-call, if any sudden trauma cases arose, whereas a surgeon working in a private firm may have set hours that they are available during the day to serve their patients.


Job Satisfaction/Stress
Stress and satisfaction in this career are very subjective, depending on the person. Generally, the stress from this career comes from the grueling amount of time and effort required to perform. Stress also comes from the morbidity of surgery that neurosurgeons have to witness and treat firsthand. This latter topic is not easy for even the bravest of doctors to handle. It has been proven that doctors have an increased rate of psychological morbidity, such as substance abuse, depression and anxiety, compared to the general public. On the other hand, this career has the potential to offer immense satisfaction. Every single day, neurosurgeons and doctors push the boundaries of human development. They touch the lives of many, by adding to other humans’ betterment. This aspect of the job is wholly appealing, because of the impact it has on society. Another component of this career that is satisfying is the challenge it provides. This career is no cake-walk. It is a challenge just to wake up in the morning, and put oneself in a position where they must first diagnose the suffering of others and then put it on themselves to fix the problems they are presented with. Because of this, one needs to be extremely self motivated. Overcoming these daily challenges is a huge form of satisfaction.


Related Jobs & Self Employment
There are hundreds of opportunities open to explore upon acquiring the certificates and degrees of a doctor. The wonderful thing about this field is that the generic term “doctor” can be branched into dozens of specialty areas. Neurology is but one that I am interested in. One can branch off into careers relating to cardiology, psychology, psychiatry, rehabilitation, pharmaceutics, radiology, immunology and the list goes on and on. The field of neurosurgery offers some, but little, prospect of self employment. Very accomplished neurosurgeons may be presented with the choice of establishing their own medical practice, whereas most surgeons are generally affiliated with a hospital or other sort of medical institution. Also, in places like Canada, where healthcare is controlled by the government and not a private sector, doctors are always working to benefit the country and the people in it. “Self employment” does not necessarily apply to this career.

Community Involvement
I wish to familiarize myself with the hospital setting, so I am commencing volunteer work at William Osler General Hospital in Etobicoke. I am turning sixteen soon, so I will also be applying to volunteer at Sick Kids’ Hospital. I also intend to do work with the Red x

Cross and their youth sector stationed in Toronto. I am also apart of the High School Emergency Response Team, and have taken a course on CPR and First Aid and am now certified. These volunteer efforts directly correlate to my prospective career. They will not only help to build my interest in this career, but also establish whether or not it is what I really would like to do with my life.

Personal Reflection
I had wanted to be a doctor for some time now, but I had never discovered a potential area of interest I would wish to delve into. It wasn’t until working on this project, stumbling on some videos of brain surgery on YouTube, and watching them, absolutely engrossed in what I was seeing, did I actually let myself consider neurosurgery as a prospective career. That, in itself, surprised me. I had never been particularly agonized by the thought of performing surgery but I had never been too excited about it until now. After doing this research, I am definitely interested in a career I was never really interested in before. I do think my skills, traits and temperament are suitable for the likes of a neurosurgeon. I am incredibly analytical, and actually wish I could switch off my brain sometimes. I live for challenges and I have a deep love and appreciation for learning. I am deeply sympathetic and most importantly, this is something that I want to do, and I am never one to give up on my dreams.


Career Studies Course Reflection
The fact that there is a class that makes one sit down and reflect about themselves and their future is something very valuable, and an underrated component of the teenage life. With the pointless dramas and all the other aspects we burden ourselves with; our future is often the last thing on our minds. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from this class, and the events that occurred during it, is that the future really does start now and it’s best to be proactive in life, rather than reactive. As for the three activities, I feel the mock job application was a good eye opener for me. I had never actually seen a job application prior to it. The activity in which we filled out a survey to get to know some of our traits more was also interesting to me. On all these surveys, I kept getting “introverted” results, while I had always considered myself to be extroverted. This was a change in myself that I had not noticed, and it led me to analyze myself further. All in all, I feel that career studies was a big reality check, not only for myself, but for the rest of the class.


"Medicine Bulletin." N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>. Medical Group Management Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>. Congress of Neurological Surgeons. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>. "Rate of Study and Tuition." Harvard College Admissions. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <http:// www.a y/ vu s/in for ml>. "Neurosurger y Residenc y. " Clinical Neurological Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>. "Medical Neurosurgeon Salary." CBsalary. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <http:// www.c bsalar y. co m/national - salary- chart.aspx? specialt y=Medical+Neurosur geon&ct y= &s id=&kw=Medical&jn=jn023& edu=&tid=68939>. Harvard Medical School. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>. "Medical College Admissions Test." AAMC. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>. "High School." Doctor Starter. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>. "Neurosurgeon Job Description." Healthcare Salary Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <http:// www.h ealthcaresalar yo nl jobdescription.html>. Doctors Without Borders. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>. "Physicians and Surgeons." United States Department of Labour. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>.


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