Neurosurgery is the surgical discipline which provides the operative and nonoperative management (i.e., prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, critical care, and rehabilitation) of disorders of the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their supporting structures and vascular supply; the evaluation and treatment of pathological processes that modify the function or activity of the nervous system, including the hypophysis: and the operative and nonoperative management of pain.

As such, neurological surgery encompasses the surgical, nonsurgical and stereotactic radiosurgical treatment of adult and pediatric patients with disorders of the nervous system: disorders of the brain, meninges, skull base, and their blood supply, including the surgical and endovascular treatment of disorders of the intracranial and extracranial vasculature supplying the brain and spinal cord; disorders of the pituitary gland; disorders of the spinal cord, meninges, and vertebral column, including those that may require treatment by fusion, instrumentation,or endovascular techniques; and disorders of the cranial and spinal nerves throughout their distribution.

A person pursuing a neurosurgical career will go through high school and into college. If the college or university of the individual's choice does not have an undergraduate medical programme (i.e. of direct entry) then the person will take courses fitting a pre-medical outline and all prerequisits required such as the United States' MCAT and Australia and New Zealand's UMAT entry tests. After graduating from medical school and meeting requirements set by their local authorities the person will apply for residencies in neurosurgery that can last up to eight years. Some neurosurgeons will pursue a fellowship after residency to obtain further specialization in the field.

Neurosurgeons work in a variety of practice settings. Some neurosurgeons practice general neurosurgery, while others choose to limit their practice to specific subspecialties. Practices range from solo practices to large group practices with multidisciplinary components. Increasingly, neurosurgeons are working together with physiatrists, neurologists and therapists to provide comprehensive care for patients with neurologic disorders such as back pain. About 20 percent of neurosurgeons practice under the auspices of a university practice plan, while the majority of neurosurgeons maintain private practices often with academic affiliations. Typical work schedules for a neurosurgeon include call coverage for one or more emergency rooms requiring sometimes frequent emergency surgeries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median net earnings for a neurosurgeon in the United States is just over $412,000.00 annually.

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