Are Neurologists happy? (Yes or No?)

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question “Are Neurologists happy?’’ and discover how satisfied these specialists are with their work and how that great responsibility affects them.

Are Neurologists happy?

Neurologists are the least happy specialists inside and outside of work, according to Medscape.

What’s a neurologist?

The Neurologist is a doctor who has specialized in the study of diseases and disorders that affect the nervous system.

The neurologist diagnoses and treats disorders of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles and pain, especially headache. Likewise, the neurologist deals with the complications in the nervous system of many other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, some traumas, tumors, etc.

What does a neurologist do? 

After what has been explained so far about how to be a neurologist, you’ll already be getting an idea of the results of the functions that this specialist performs in consultation and what type of diseases they treat.

Regarding the functions, we already told you that he basically performs three in his day to day as a clinician:

When the patient is admitted, the neurologist is in charge of initially evaluating the patient, his history and his current situation:

  1. Initial evaluation of the patient: Through the neurological examination, the site of the injury can be determined in order to help direct the most appropriate treatment. 

Physical, neurological, cognitive and behavioral deficits that will impair the functional recovery of the patient, as well as the ability to perform specific tasks, are also identified.

  1. Personal history: The neurologist must know the diseases prior to admission, like the medical comorbidities that must be treated. Specifically, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, diabetes and heart problems.
  1. Evaluation of the current situation of the patient in order to prevent complications derived from medication, previous illnesses and brain damage. For example, epileptic seizures, infections (respiratory and urinary), dehydration, syncope, etc.

During admission, both neurological and medical pharmacological treatment is supervised and controlled. If necessary, diagnostic tests are requested to aid in the diagnosis (neuroimaging, and neurophysiological tests) or the opinion of a second specialist when the associated pathologies require it.

Every week, the neurorehabilitation team meets in a clinical session to discuss the neuro-rehabilitation goals of each patient and the progress and impediments to achieving these goals (for example pain, depression, spasticity, extrapyramidal manifestations, cardiovascular or respiratory instability).

At the time of discharge from the hospital, the neurologist assesses your medical evolution and neurological sequelae to issue a medical report together with the neurorehabilitation team.

What disorders does the neurologist study?

  • Alzheimer disease
  • Ictus
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Migraines
  • Muscular dystrophies
  • Dysphonias
  • Neuralgia
  • Insomnia
  • Fatal Familial Insomnia
  • Alice in Wonderland syndrome: visual perception disorders.

Education and Training Requirements

The training of neurologists is quite strong and demanding. They must complete four years in medical school and approximately 4 years of practice (according to the specialization).

After obtaining the state license, they can practice a profession independently or in a medical center or hospital.

Neurologist Residents

Starting from the beginning, the student that begins its residency in this specialty is waiting for a first-year and two months of rotation awaiting them in Psychiatry, three in Neurology, and the other seven months divided into different medical specialties: Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Infectious. It depends a bit on the hospital.

During the rest of the residency, they will have 15 months of rotation in Neurology and another 12 of mandatory rotations (Neuroimaging, Clinical Neurophysiology, Neurosonology, Neurosurgery, Child Neurology, and Interventional Neuroradiology). 

Then there are another nine months for optional rotations: epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke unit … all that one can choose within the specialty.

What are neurologists like?

Neurologists have a professional image of being intelligent and capable of staying emotionally detached from their patients.

Likewise, other features such as:

  • Inquisitive
  • Perfectionists
  • Inveterate
  • Strong personality
  • Independent

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator shows us that the characteristics or personality types that prevail in this case are similar to those of Neurosurgeons, but the first discipline attracts more introverted individuals while the second more to extroverts.

Neurologists are considered thoughtful and scholarly, qualities necessary in a field where an understanding of complex problems in terms of cause-effect is required. This specialty is also attractive to people with a theoretical or academic orientation.

Advantages of choosing neurology

It’s a medical specialty wherewith the knowledge, the medical history, and the examination you can make a diagnosis. And that covers many different areas because it’s not only the brain but also the spinal cord, peripheral nerve, the muscle … It allows us to know everything about the operation very well.

On the other hand, within the field of Neuroscience, in which the most progress is being made, there are many possibilities to investigate. Because research, today, is one of the strengths of the specialty of Neurology.

A Day in the Life of a Neurologist

A neurologist has the opportunity to be a full-time outpatient clinic neurologist or full time inpatient neurologist, they care of only patients in the acute hospital setting, those are called neural hospitals. 

The neurologist who focus on outpatient care take care of people in the non-acute setting and neuro hospitalists take care of people with acute neurological diseases such as acute stroke or for instance can take care of other neurological emergencies like seizures.

Daily tasks

Neurologist’s days differ from one physician to next, according to the subspecialty they took. Of course, most of time, they solve what’s going on inside their patient’s brains.

For example, the doctor and blogger known as Neurogal MD, who specializes in epilepsy, works in a clinic with only clients with seizure disease, while one week every month she strictly works in a hospital as the official reader of brainwave studies called electroencephalogram (EEG).

Hours

Neurologists work an average of 40-58 hours per week on professional activities generally between 9:00am and 17:00. Time is distributed in different activities such as patient care, assistance, etc. In addition, there is time to visit the patients’ families and research.

Working Environment

Neurologists often work in pleasant environments and well-equipped exam rooms, but it can also be very stressful, neurologists can see 10-15 patients per day, most of them are follow-up visits.

The profession can be quite stressful and doing the job successfully may require working more than 50 hours a week.

Salary and Benefits

The salary of neurologists depends on their level of experience and the workplace. On average, neurologists earn around $ 180,000 annually. The least they can earn is 150,000, while the most experienced can earn up to $ 300,000 a year.

Neurologists who work independently (their own practice) earn more than neurologists employed in institutions; however, they tend to work many more hours and don’t have benefits such as health insurance, sick leaves, paid vacations, benefits that neurologists employed in hospitals and medical centers have.

How satisfied are neurologists with their work?

Compared to other specialties, neurologists seem to be the least happy. In one study, only 18% stated that they are extremely happy at work.

Medscape conducts annual surveys to analyze various areas of the personal, professional, and financial quality of life of various medical specialists.

In this case, the study involved 15.180 physicians with a median age of 47 years old across 29+ specialties met the screening criteria and completed the survey, weighted to the American Medical Association’s physician distribution by specialty and state.

Burnout and depression

Physician burnout comprises 3 aspects: emotional exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment (depersonalization), and a sense of ineffectiveness at work (low personal accomplishment).

When a person is ‘’burnout’’, they may feel drained every day, have a cynical attitude, feel unmotivated, and dissatisfied with their work.

The study found that 50% of neurologists have been in a state of burnout, including 15% of them, have been burnout and depressed at the same time.

What contributes the most to neurologists’ burnout is bureaucratic tasks such as paperwork (60%), and the hours spent at work (40%). Other less frequent but outstanding factors are insufficient compensation and lack of autonomy and respect (25%).

Neurologists cope with burnout isolating themselves from others, talking with their family members, exercising, sleeping, and playing or listening to music.

However, professionalism always comes first, and it seems that neurologists’ depression doesn’t affect their relationship with their patients, although 20% of those surveyed state that they have expressed their frustration in front of patients.

The majority (65%) of neurologists who have felt this way plan to deal with their emotions on their own.

Why haven’t neurologists sought help? Neurologists apparently believe that they can deal with this without the need for a professional, as the symptoms are not as severe. Furthermore, they allege that they’re too busy for it.

Life outside work and vacations

Almost half of neurologists take 3-4 weeks vacation a year. Although, a third take 1 to 2 weeks, and only a small minority take more than 6 weeks.

Almost 70% of neurologists spend between 1 and 10 hours a week on the internet for personal use and in the same way they spend the same time for professional use.

When it comes to spending time on their own health and well-being, most of them achieve a balance between their work and their well-being exercising at least 2 times a week, although 26% do not really take care of that.

So, are Neurologists happy?

Neurologists are the specialists in charge of the nervous system, the fundamental structure and in charge of the hundreds of functions of the human being.

Brain lessons can have heartbreaking effects on the lives of patients, literally their lives can change completely and leave permanent damage.

Neurologists feel this pressure and dissatisfaction when dealing emotionally with the patient and their families. Explaining your illness and how it will affect your life in detail is a difficult position. Especially when most of these conditions don’t have a specific cure.

It’s ironic how doctors take care of our well-being and don’t care so much about theirs. It’s important to have your own space, rest and someone you can talk to in case of feeling frustrated, tired, etc. To prevent feelings from influencing the quality of your work.

FAQ’s: Are Neurologists happy?

Is being a neurologist stressful?

A neurologist’s work day is stressful, as they have to see many scared patients or patients who are in serious condition on a daily basis.

Why are neurologists burned out?

The nature of neurological conditions leads to physician dissatisfaction, as many of them have no cure, so they have to deal with patients and family and watch how their lives change and the limited options they have. Also, loss of autonomy, administrative demands and burdensome technologies makes neurologists feel burnout.

Is there a high demand for neurologists?

By 2025, the demand for neurologists is expected to increase to 21,440 (from 18,180 in 2012). While there are currently 16,366 active neurologists (2012 data), it’s estimated that by 2025 it will increase to 18,060. Thus, there is a great demand for neurologists today.

What symptoms do neurologists treat?

Involuntary movements
Cramps
Walking difficulties
Loss of balance
Difficulty to swallow.
Seizures
Loss of sensation.
Speech, vision or hearing disorders.
Behavioral disorders.
Headache

Who is the highest paid neurologist?

Self-employed neurologists (own practice) earn up to $ 70k more than those who work in institutions (hospitals, etc.)

In this brief guide we answered the question “Are Neurologists happy?’” and discovered how satisfied these specialists are with their work and how that great responsibility affects them.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

References

Busis,  A., Shanafelt, D., Keran, M., Levin, H., Schwarz, B., Molano, R., Cascino, L. (2017). Burnout, career satisfaction, and well-being among US neurologists in 2016. Neurology, 88(8), 797–808. 

Medscape. (2020). Retrieved September 13, 2020, from Medscape.com website: https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2018-compensation-neurologist-6009661

Medscape. (2020). Retrieved September 13, 2020, from Medscape.com website: https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2020-lifestyle-neurologist-6012500

Teixeira-Point, M., Halpern, T., Kane, L., Keating, M., & Olmsted, M. (2017). Factors influencing professional life satisfaction among neurologists. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1). 

Why Are Neurologists Burned Out? (2018, February 22). Retrieved September 13, 2020, from Aan.com website: ‌https://www.aan.com/tools-and-resources/practicing-neurologists-administrators/career-articles/why-are-neurologists-burned-out/ 

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