Neurosurgeons are specialized surgeons who focus on the brain, spine, and nervous system, and correcting neurological problems through surgery. These can include back surgeries, removing brain tumors, and other specialized neurological procedures.
Neurosurgeons work in a variety of practice settings; some practice general neurosurgery, while others limit their practice to specific sub-specialties, such as pediatrics, spine, vascular/endovascular, tumor, peripheral nerve, functional, and skull base. They are responsible for diagnosing illnesses and prescribing and administering treatment for those suffering from injury or disease, and also examine patients, obtain medical histories, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. When working directly with patients, they may offer counseling on diet, hygiene, and preventive health care.
In addition to expertise and ability in the operating room, the job also involves dealing with patients and family members who may be in fragile emotional states due to the circumstances. Those suffering from disorders of the brain may have trouble expressing themselves, so patience and understanding are important in this position. Communication and people skills are necessary to work with medical associates, as well.
Neurosurgeons must exude competence, confidence, and reassurance at all times, and some may be called upon at any time of day or night and even work 60 hours or more per week. The pressure is unrelenting, as these doctors constantly encounter life-or-death situations. Because they are involved in multiple cases at any given time, they must also be organized and profoundly detail-oriented.
Interview patients, evaluate test results, and diagnose conditions or the absence of conditions.
Teach medical students and supervise residents.
Document and track all treatments, diagnoses, medications, and other health data.
Discuss outcomes and potential courses of action with patients, and assist them in the decision-making process.
Perform surgical procedures, both exploratory and for treatment.