Summary of occupation
A neurosurgeon is a specialist in the surgical treatment of disorders and injury to the brain, spine and nervous system. Neurosurgeons have an extremely high level of responsibility as they operate on or near the brain and spine. They work closely with other medical professionals to treat life-threatening conditions such as head and spine trauma, severe epilepsy, brain aneurysms, congenital disorders, brain and spinal tumours, and clogged arteries in the neck that can lead to stroke.
There are currently 20 neurosurgeons in Western Australia, all of whom work in the Perth metropolitan area.
Performs surgery to correct disorders of the brain, spine and nervous system. Registration or licensing is required.
Neurosurgeons usually work for hospitals as surgical specialists. They also supervise and teach medical students, residents and registrars. They may be required to work long shifts, odd hours and weekends. They may be required to be on-call in case of an emergency.
Neurosurgeons may have to operate for long periods at a time. They operate in completely sterile theatre rooms and must wear protective clothing.
On average, neurosurgeons can expect to earn between $2 885 and $7 692 per week ($150 000 and $400 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.
Neurosurgeons use a range of specialised surgical instruments while operating on patients, such as scalpels, clamps, shunts, retractors and drills. They must wear sterile surgical attire while operating. They may use intra-operative Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), angiography and Computed Tomography (CT) scanning. They may also use robotic radiosurgical systems while operating.
To become a neurosurgeon you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in neurosurgery.
In Western Australia, postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To then specialise in neurosurgery, you must register with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and undergo a training program at accredited hospitals, and ultimately receive fellowship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.