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31 March 2017Last updated
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Ask the expert: I want to be a neurosurgeon

In the US and Canada, candidates initially have to have a related Bachelor’s degree to apply to medical school

Sanjeev Verma
3 Mar 2017 | 12:00 am
  • Source:iStock

I’m in grade 10 and want to become a neurosurgeon. I wish to continue my studies abroad after 12th grade. I am confused about which university or degree to choose.

The most important step is to choose the right courses after grade 10 to meet the subject prerequisites for admission. As is the case in India, it is highly competitive to gain admission to study medicine around the world. The UK, Ireland and certain other European countries provide direct admission into medicine while countries such as the US and Canada need students to have a related undergraduate qualification prior to admission to medicine (called pre-med).

In high school you would be required to study chemistry, maths, biology and/or physics. The UK requires a student to obtain extremely high grades in these subjects along with an IELTS of 7.5. You should also score well in an external entrance exam (UKCAT or the BMAT).

Be careful about the registration and exam dates as they tend to be much earlier than application dates for other subjects.

Also depending on the university you want to apply to, you would need to decide which exam to sit for. For students who do not meet the stringent and extremely competitive entry requirements, both the UK and Ireland offer a very popular alternative known as the Foundation Programme.

Completing your medical degree leads to provisional then full registration with the General Medical Council. Subsequently, students are required to do two years’ residency and take the MRCS exam. They then apply for neurosurgical training posts, which progress through eight stages of training and take eight years to complete.

On completion, a special panel will consider their training and recommend to place them in the specialist register.

In the US and Canada, candidates initially have to have a related Bachelor’s degree to apply to medical school. Their undergraduate degree must meet pre-med requisites and have courses such as human anatomy, physiology, microbiology and biochemistry. With a high GPA in the Bachelors and MCAT, candidates can apply for medical schools of their choice.

I strongly recommend that you do a psychometric test to ensure you have the necessary attributes for this specialisation. Having said that, once you have passed this threshold, the sky is the limit as neurosurgery is one of the most respected and admired fields in medicine.

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Sanjeev Verma

Sanjeev Verma

is a leading international education counsellor