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How Do I Become a Neuropathologist?

Med school graduates must complete a residency training program.
After graduating from college, neuropathologists complete residency training at a hospital.
A neuropathologist interprets brain fluid samples.
Neuropathologists often help diagnose conditions such as brain tumors.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2014
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Becoming a neuropathologist requires an extended amount of education and training. A person who wants to become a neuropathologist typically starts out by earning a high school diploma and then goes on to complete college and attend medical school. After medical school, an aspiring neuropathologist still has more training ahead of him. He’ll usually go on to complete not only an internship, but also a few additional years of training pertinent to his field.

Neuropathologists specialize in conditions that involve the brain and nervous system. They help diagnose conditions such as brain tumors, studying and evaluating tissue and cell samples to look for signs of certain conditions. A person in this field also interprets fluid biopsy samples. When evaluating brain tumor tissue, these doctors seek to discover the cell the cancer developed from and how rapidly the cancer is growing.

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While attending high school, a person who wants to become a neuropathologist may do well to take science classes, such as biology, anatomy, and chemistry as well as advanced math, such as algebra and pre-calculus. This may help prepare him for the complex coursework he’ll have to complete in both college and medical school. A person who has not earned a high school diploma will not necessarily have a problem pursuing this career, however. Many colleges do accept applicants who have General Educational Development (GEDs) diplomas instead of high school diplomas. As long as the aspiring neuropathologist does well in college and meets other admissions requirements, he will usually have a good chance of getting into medical school.

Most people spend four years in college, working toward a bachelor’s degree and then go on to complete four years of medical school in order to become neuropathologists. After graduating from college, they generally go on to complete residency training at a hospital. This residency training is often referred to as an internship. Upon completion of the internship, a person who wants to become a neuropathologist completes about three years of laboratory training focused on this field.

Once a person has become a neuropathologist, there are many settings in which he may work. He may work in a hospital or laboratory, for example. Some in this field work in clinics, while others go on to work in colleges and research facilities. Though there are different job settings from which a neuropathologist may choose, most people in this field opt to work in hospitals or research facilities. Many choose to teach medical students as well.

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anon323196
Post 3

I am getting interested in this type of neurology. I am even considering studying it after grade 12.

miriam98
Post 2

@allenJo - Whatever the requirements, we need more neuropathologists. A brain tumor diagnosis is the death knell for many a patient, excluding those tumors that turn out to be benign.

I knew one guy who had a brain tumor and had seizures. He tried to fight it out and live on. He was able to live a little longer, but not much longer. It was so sad.

I don’t know if they couldn’t do surgery in his case or if it was too risky and he declined, but either way we need breakthroughs in the field of brain pathology. I think the greater the number of neuropathologists working towards a cure, the better.

allenJo
Post 1

This is about as close to rocket science in the medical field as you can get in my opinion. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. You're studying anatomy but you need the advanced math skills because you need to understand things like electrical pathways in the brain, and I think the rigorous math prepares you for that, at least at a fundamental level.

I would also like to point out that in addition to the credentials mentioned in the article, I believe that you would need to be board certified by some organization to become a doctor in neuropathology – at least one who is credible, in my opinion.

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