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What Should I Expect from a Neurology Residency?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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There are lots of things that people can expect from a neurology residency. They will certainly learn more, work very hard, and hopefully attain the training they need to sit board examinations and begin work as a board certified neurologist. Other things along the way may vary based on the training program.

Students typically begin a neurology residency after becoming licensed as physicians. There’s often little to no gap in time between this licensing and joining a residency program, and people may have prepared slightly in their last year of training after medical school by participating in a neurology rotation. Most applying residents should know at this point what types of patients and illnesses neurology is most likely to involve. A short list could include disorders of the central nervous system, stroke, cerebral palsy, some cases of spinal paralysis, and conditions like epilepsy.

The average neurology residency is at least three years long, and those people who find they like a particular subspecialty of the field might spend more time studying as residents or fellows. Institutions that offer residencies are almost always attached to well known medical schools and tertiary hospitals that encourage the teaching hospital environment. Residents can expect to get paid a small amount, which usually won’t be sufficient to make a dent in any loans they’ve acquired, but will generally be enough to avoid having to borrow additional money. Rates of pay vary by institution and sometimes go up per year.

Hours per week are usually highest for first year residents and begin to decrease over the years. It is not uncommon, despite persistent efforts to change this by many in the medical community, for a first year neurology resident to work 80 hours or more per week. They can expect to be learning on their feet, seeing patients, and gaining greater responsibility to make minor decisions or to perform minor procedures. In addition to long hours on the job, residents can expect changes in shift that can make it difficult to determine when to sleep. A good investment for any resident is a light blocking shade or a pair of light blocking curtains, and some earplugs, so sleeping in the daytime is easier.

Types and status of patients may vary. Those participating in a neurology residency are likely to be part of the staff that works at any hospital outpatient neurology clinic that is offered. Yet they’ll also learn about and assist those who are hospitalized. As mentioned, ability to do more progresses as residents progress through the program. Third year or fourth year students may supervise incoming residents, and are typically looked to as the authority, especially in absence of a board certified neurologist. Each hospital decides and defines how far that authority extends.

At the termination of a neurology residency, people who are well-prepared should pass board examinations with no difficulty. When passed, a doctor may claim status as a neurologist and seek a position in that capacity. Doctors can also go into private practice in this specialty if they so choose.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By chrismd — On Aug 17, 2013

Great post, interesting read, especially for residents and doctors like me who are interested in this. I have been preparing for boards and stumbled upon your site in my search for neuro articles for board review. I've been using other sites that have questions and trying to supplement with great reading like on your blog.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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