What is a Neurologist?

A neurologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that affect the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. These specialists have extensive knowledge of the structure, function, and diseases of the nervous system and are trained to use a range of diagnostic tools to assess and manage neurological conditions.

Neurologists are often called upon to diagnose and treat conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and stroke. They may also work with patients who have chronic pain, movement disorders, or sleep disorders. In addition to conducting physical exams and interpreting diagnostic tests, neurologists may prescribe medications, recommend lifestyle changes, and provide education and counseling to help patients manage their condition. They may also work closely with other healthcare professionals, including neurosurgeons, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for their patients.

What does a Neurologist do?

A neurologist looking at X-rays.

Neurologists play a crucial role in the field of healthcare due to the vital importance of the nervous system in the human body. Their specialized knowledge and expertise in diagnosing and treating disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system are essential for providing appropriate medical care.

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of a neurologist can vary depending on their specialty, clinical setting, and patients. However, some common duties and responsibilities of a neurologist include:

  • Diagnosing and treating neurological disorders: Neurologists are responsible for diagnosing and treating a range of neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and stroke. They may use a range of diagnostic tools, such as brain imaging, electroencephalography (EEG), and nerve conduction studies, to assess and manage these conditions.
  • Conducting physical exams: Neurologists are trained to conduct detailed physical exams to evaluate patients' neurological function, including assessing reflexes, muscle strength, and sensory function. They may also perform cognitive assessments to evaluate memory, attention, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Prescribing medications: Neurologists may prescribe medications to manage symptoms of neurological disorders, such as seizures, tremors, and pain. They may also prescribe medications to slow the progression of certain conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease.
  • Developing treatment plans: Neurologists work with patients and other healthcare professionals, such as neurosurgeons, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, to develop comprehensive treatment plans that address patients' specific needs and goals.
  • Educating and counseling patients: Neurologists may provide education and counseling to help patients understand their condition, manage their symptoms, and make lifestyle changes that can improve their overall health and well-being.
  • Conducting research: Many neurologists also conduct research to advance our understanding of neurological disorders and develop new treatments. They may collaborate with other researchers and healthcare professionals to design and carry out clinical trials and studies.

Types of Neurologists
Neurology is a diverse field that encompasses many different subspecialties. Some common types of neurologists include:

  • General Neurologists: General neurologists diagnose and treat a wide range of neurological conditions, including epilepsy, migraine headaches, and movement disorders.
  • Stroke Neurologists: Stroke neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke, a condition that occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted.
  • Pediatric Neurologists: Pediatric neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions in children, including epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays.
  • Neuro-Oncologists: Neuro-oncologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of brain and spinal cord tumors.
  • Neuromuscular Neurologists: Neuromuscular neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that affect the muscles and nerves, such as muscular dystrophy and peripheral neuropathy.
  • Headache Neurologists: Headache neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of headaches and migraines, which can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, hormonal changes, and neurological conditions.
  • Movement Disorder Neurologists: Movement disorder neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect movement, such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and Tourette's syndrome.

Are you suited to be a neurologist?

Neurologists have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if neurologist is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Neurologist like?

Neurologists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, research institutions, and private practices. The workplace of a neurologist can vary depending on their area of expertise, level of experience, and the type of patients they treat.

In a hospital setting, neurologists may be responsible for diagnosing and treating patients with acute neurological problems such as strokes, seizures, and traumatic brain injuries. They may also work closely with other medical professionals, including neurosurgeons, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists, to provide comprehensive care to their patients. Neurologists in hospitals may also conduct research and teach medical students and residents.

In a clinical setting, neurologists may see patients with a variety of chronic neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. They may also perform diagnostic tests such as EEGs, EMGs, and MRIs to help diagnose and monitor neurological disorders. In addition to patient care, neurologists in clinical settings may also be involved in clinical trials and research studies to develop new treatments for neurological diseases.

Neurologists may also work in academic settings, such as universities and research institutions, where they conduct research and teach medical students and residents. They may also collaborate with other scientists to develop new treatments and therapies for neurological diseases. Neurologists in academic settings may also present their research at conferences and publish scientific papers in medical journals.

In private practice, neurologists may work independently or as part of a group practice. They may see patients with a wide range of neurological disorders, from migraines to epilepsy. Neurologists in private practice may also perform diagnostic tests such as nerve conduction studies and spinal taps. In addition to patient care, they may also be responsible for managing the business side of their practice, including hiring staff, managing finances, and marketing their services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Neurologist vs Neuroscientist

Neurologists and neuroscientists are both professionals who study the brain and nervous system, but they have different areas of expertise and focus.

A neurologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. They are trained to provide medical care for patients with conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke. Neurologists use a variety of tools to diagnose and treat patients, including imaging techniques like MRI and CT scans, and may prescribe medications or other therapies to manage symptoms.

On the other hand, a neuroscientist is a scientist who studies the structure, function, development, and evolution of the nervous system. They use a range of techniques to study the brain and nervous system at the molecular, cellular, and systems levels, and their research may focus on topics such as learning and memory, neural development, neural plasticity, and brain disorders. Neuroscientists may work in academic settings, government agencies, or private industry, and their work may have applications in fields such as medicine, psychology, engineering, and artificial intelligence.

In summary, neurologists focus on diagnosing and treating nervous system disorders in patients, while neuroscientists study the nervous system at a more fundamental level, aiming to understand its underlying mechanisms and develop new treatments and therapies.

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Types of Disorders a Neurologist Treats

Some of the disorders that neurologists commonly diagnose and treat include:

  • Stroke: A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, leading to brain damage. Neurologists can help prevent and treat strokes by managing risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. Neurologists can diagnose epilepsy and prescribe medications or other treatments to help manage seizures.
  • Multiple sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the nervous system. Neurologists can diagnose MS and prescribe medications to help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
  • Parkinson's disease: Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder that affects movement and coordination. Neurologists can diagnose Parkinson's disease and prescribe medications to help manage symptoms.
  • Alzheimer's disease: Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects memory and cognitive function. Neurologists can diagnose Alzheimer's disease and prescribe medications to help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
  • Neuromuscular disorders: Neuromuscular disorders affect the muscles and nerves that control movement. Neurologists can diagnose and treat conditions such as muscular dystrophy, myasthenia gravis, and peripheral neuropathy.

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Neurologist vs Neurosurgeon

Neurologists and neurosurgeons are both medical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the nervous system, but they have distinct roles and responsibilities:


  • Diagnosis and Medical Management: Neurologists are physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles. They typically focus on non-surgical interventions and use various diagnostic tests, such as MRI, CT scans, and electromyography (EMG), to evaluate patients' neurological symptoms.
  • Medical Treatment: Neurologists primarily treat neurological conditions using medications, lifestyle modifications, and other non-invasive therapies. They manage chronic conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and migraines, as well as acute neurological emergencies like strokes.
  • Consultation and Referral: Neurologists often collaborate with other healthcare professionals, including primary care physicians, neurosurgeons, and rehabilitation specialists, to provide comprehensive care for patients with complex neurological conditions. They may also refer patients to neurosurgeons for surgical intervention when necessary.


  • Surgical Expertise: Neurosurgeons are medical doctors who specialize in performing surgical procedures on the nervous system, including the brain, spine, and peripheral nerves. They are trained to address a wide range of conditions, such as brain tumors, spinal cord injuries, cerebral aneurysms, and degenerative spine disorders.
  • Surgical Treatment: Neurosurgeons use advanced surgical techniques, including microsurgery, endoscopy, and stereotactic radiosurgery, to treat neurological disorders that require surgical intervention. They perform procedures such as craniotomies, spinal fusions, laminectomies, and deep brain stimulation implantation.
  • Postoperative Care: Neurosurgeons are responsible for providing postoperative care to their patients, including monitoring their recovery, managing pain, and addressing any complications that may arise after surgery. They work closely with neurologists, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals to ensure optimal outcomes for their patients.

In summary, while neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and medical management of neurological disorders, neurosurgeons focus on surgical treatment options for these conditions. Both specialties play complementary roles in providing comprehensive care for patients with neurological conditions, with neurologists often serving as primary caregivers and neurosurgeons performing surgical interventions when necessary.

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Doctor Specializations and Degrees

The following is a comprehensive list of the various specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:

  • Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
  • Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
  • Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
  • Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
  • Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
  • Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
  • Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
  • Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
  • Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
  • Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
  • Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
  • Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
  • Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
  • Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
  • Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
  • Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
  • Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
  • Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
  • Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
  • Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
  • Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
  • Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
  • Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  • Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
  • Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
  • Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
  • Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
  • Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
  • Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
  • Telemedicine Physician: A telemedicine physician provides remote healthcare services to patients using telecommunications technology, facilitating virtual consultations, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations.
  • Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
  • Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.
  • Veterinary Dentist - A veterinary dentist is a specialized veterinarian who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dental diseases and conditions in animals. They perform dental procedures such as cleanings, extractions, and oral surgeries to improve the oral health and well-being of pets and other animals.


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Doctor Allergist Anesthesiologist Cardiologist Cardiothoracic Surgeon Chiropractor Colorectal Surgeon Dentist Dermatologist Emergency Medicine Physician Endocrinologist Family Practitioner Forensic Pathologist Gastroenterologist Geriatrician Gynecologist Hematologist Hospitalist Immunologist Infectious Disease Specialist Internist Medical Examiner Naturopathic Physician Nephrologist Neurosurgeon Obstetrician Occupational Physician Oncologist Ophthalmologist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Orthopedic Surgeon Orthopedist Orthodontist Osteopath Otolaryngologist Pathologist Pediatrician Periodontist Plastic Surgeon Podiatrist Prosthodontist Psychiatrist Pulmonologist Radiologist Rheumatologist Sports Medicine Physician Surgeon Urologist Vascular Medicine Specialist Vascular Surgeon Chiropractic Neurologist Veterinary Dentist Telemedicine Physician