Staying Ahead in the Field: Essential Tips for Modern Neurosurgeons

ByWaqar Hussain

Feb 7, 2024

Of all the physician specialties that exist, neurosurgery is one of the most prestigious. Because of the incredibly specialized work they do, neurosurgeons are widely respected and highly regarded. But to be the best you have to do what it takes to reach and stay at the top of your field.

There are a variety of things — both inside and outside of clinical practice — that practicing neurosurgeons can do to improve their technical skill sets, develop their career in different ways, and become even more respected in their field.

Ready to learn what those are?

Here are five steps that modern neurosurgeons can take now to stay ahead in the field. 

Collaborate with Other Neurosurgeons

You can make great strides in neurosurgery by helping to develop new treatments and procedures, and collaborating with peers and physicians in other specialties is an effective way to do so.

Establishing or joining a multidisciplinary team that consists of other neurosurgeons, neurologists, radiologists, and anesthesiologists can lead to the development of new techniques and more effective treatment methods.

Along with collaborating with peers, you can also coach new physicians in your specialty. Becoming a trusted mentor can advance your career and help to advance the careers of new, young doctors.

In addition to collaborating with members of your own team or mentoring younger doctors in your own hospital, join professional associations and attend networking events. Networking is a great way to continue to learn from and understand some of the challenges faced by surgeons that work in different hospitals and practices.

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Continue to Improve Your Soft Skills

Neurosurgeons are required to develop a unique set of technical skills, but soft skills are equally as important for both career and personal development.

Soft skills include communication skills, problem-solving skills, and leadership skills. Learning how to develop and improve upon these can take you far, no matter what your medical specialty may be. Developing your own emotional intelligence and listening skills are also essential, as these are necessary when communicating with patients as well as other medical professionals.

Soft skills are useful in every type of profession, so in addition to helping you perform better in surgical situations, they also make it easier to transition into other opportunities. Should you decide later in your career to transition to academia and education, hospital administration, or a position outside of healthcare, having strong soft skills will make it easier to do so.


One way to get ahead in the field of neurosurgery is to sub-specialize in a more concentrated field. While the standard neurosurgery residency lasts seven years, neurosurgeons can do additional years of training to sub-specialize in a more specific field, such as: 

  • Neurovascular surgery
  • Neurosurgical oncology
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurotrauma surgery
  • Cranial surgery

Neurosurgeons are amongst some of the highest paid physicians in the country, but you can command an even higher salary if you work in a sub-specialty. Checkout this Physicians Thrive article for a more in-depth look at average salary ranges for neurosurgeons in different subspecialties.

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State Up to Date on New Technologies

To be at the top of your field you have to stay abreast of new tools, new medical procedures, and new technologies. New technologies are being developed all the time, and neurosurgeons need to have a solid understanding of how these advancements can alter and improve the way they diagnose patients and perform surgical procedures.

This includes understanding the effects that AI can have on the field of neurosurgery. 

Though the use of AI in daily neurological care is still being explored, there are studies that show how it may be beneficial as both a diagnostic tool as well as a surgical tool in the OR. To learn more about how artificial intelligence can play a role in neurosurgery, checkout this article published in the National Library of Medicine.

Improve Your Own Fine Motor Skills

Handling delicate, specialized surgical instruments requires dexterity and superior hand-eye coordination, and there are many things that neurosurgeons can do to improve and maintain those skills throughout their career.

Consider pursuing hobbies that help to improve dexterity and fine motor skills, such as drawing, origami, or playing a musical instrument. Even playing video games and doing puzzles can be beneficial, and you can see even greater benefits and improve your motor skills even more by doing them with your less-dominant hand. 

In Conclusion

Neurosurgeons do more training and have more medical education than most physicians in other specialties, but there’s always more to learn and room to grow.

While your patients, other medical professionals, and those that don’t work in healthcare may already view you as being at the top of the medical field, there are many steps you can take that will help you propel your career forward. By taking these steps early on and continuing to pursue them throughout your career, you can be at the top of your game from the day you start practicing until the day you retire. 

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