In order to become a neurologist you will have to complete at least 12 years of higher education.
You will need to get a bachelors degree which typically takes 4-5 years. You can get a your bachelor’s in a variety of fields but the most common one for pre-med students is biology because the requirements for the degree will include all of the required medical school prerequisite classes as well as the classes needed to take the MCAT.
Many students take the MCAT exam in their junior year of college but some will wait until senior year or will take it a second time in their senior year to improve their score. The MCAT is the required standardized test to get into medical school. Depending on when you take the test and how you score you may need to take what is known as a “gap year” where you have a year off between graduating with your bachelors and beginning medical school. Some people will also plan this year in on purpose to provide themselves with a break between schooling.
Once you get into medical school it is a four year program. Most programs have 2 years of pre-clinical (or lecture based) studies followed by 2 years of clinical rotations where you go through different specialities.
In your senior year of medical school you will apply to residencies, for your interest right now you would apply to a variety of neurology residencies. Just how some students have a gap year between undergraduate and medical school some students have a gap year between medical school and residency. More competitive specialities like surgery are harder to get into and some students will not be accepted into a residency program their first application cycle so they will wait a year and apply again.
Finally, once in residency you will have to complete a minimum of 4 years of residency to become a full-fledged neurologist. After residency there are other options you can pursue if you would like to become more specialized, but that is completely optional.
So on the low end it will require 12 years of schooling but could take 15 or more depending on individual circumstances and your medical school journey.
Raquel recommends the following next steps:
Four years of premedical education in a college or university
Four years of medical school resulting in an MD or DO degree (doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy degree)
One year internship in either internal medicine or medicine/surgery
At least 3 years of specialty training in an accredited neurology residency program
1-3 years of subspecialty fellowship training in areas such as epilepsy, movement disorders, etc, may then be undertaken
Residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) provide supervised experience in hospital and ambulatory care settings, as well as educational conferences and research trainings.
To be eligible for board certification applicants must:
have an unrestricted state license to practice medicine
complete the required years of residency
successfully pass both a written (Part I) and oral (Part II) exam administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology