Neurosurgery involves managing neurosurgical conditions. A neurosurgeon operates on patients with conditions such as brain tumours and cerebral aneurysms.
The Royal Society of Medicine offers a range of events for different surgical specialties, including Neurosurgery – see a full list on our Events page>>
Entry Route into Neurosurgery
Applicants must have completed the two-year Foundation Programme before they are eligible to apply for Core Surgical Training.
Job Progression as a Neurosurgeon
Training in Neurosurgery is a run-through training programme so once an applicant is accepted at any level there is no need to apply again. However, trainees must complete examinations for Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) before they can progress to ST3.
The training programme starts at ST1 and takes eight years to complete. During ST1-3, trainees spend six months working in Neurosurgery, and six months in Acute Neurology. During ST2-3 posts, trainees complete one or more placements in surgical specialties that are complementary to Neurosurgery. General neurosurgical training takes place during ST4-5, and advanced neurosurgical training takes place during ST6-7. During ST8, trainees spend time working in one of the neurosurgical subspecialties:
- Paediatric neurosurgery,
- Spinal surgery,
- Functional neurosurgery,
- Skull base surgery, and
- Neurovascular surgery.
Trainees can apply for consultant positions six months before obtaining their CCT, and there are opportunities to work in management as a clinical lead, or a clinical or medical director. There are also formal opportunities to become involved in the education and training of junior doctors by working as
- a director of medical education overseeing postgraduate medical training,
- a training programme director responsible for the education of trainee doctors in the local region, or
- an associate dean responsible for managing the training programme.
Trainees interested in an academic career can apply for an academic clinical fellowship. Alternatively, trainees can continue the ST clinical training programme after ST4 level.
Competition for Neurosurgery Posts
In 2017, the competition ratio at ST3 was 2.11, with 19 applications for 9 posts. The competition ratio for Core Surgical Training was 2.56, with 1,608 applications for 629 posts.
In December 2017, there were
- 320 consultants,
- 4 associate specialists,
- 7 speciality doctors,
- 3 staff grades,
- 368 speciality registrars,
- 71 core trainees,
- 39 F2 trainees, and
- 10 F1 trainees.
The starting salary for junior doctors in England ranges from £26,614 to £46,208, and from £37,923 to £87,521 for speciality doctors. Consultants can expect to earn between £76,761 and £103,490. There are additional supplements for on-call work, antisocial hours, and other commitments. For additional information, please check our page on pay scales.
A Day in the Life
Neurosurgery is an intensive and demanding speciality with a significant amount of on-call work – both out-of-hours, and during weekends. Neurosurgeons generally work in large regional centres attached to teaching hospitals – of which there are currently 34 in the UK. Daily work involves performing surgery, monitoring patients pre- and post-operatively, reviewing those in outpatients and emergency departments, and attending ward rounds and multidisciplinary meetings.