What they do

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.

Working conditions

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.

Tools and technologies

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.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a neurosurgeon, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in neurosurgery.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To specialise in neurosurgery, doctors must apply to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) to complete the Neurosurgical Surgical Education and Training Program and ultimately receive fellowship.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency).

Required registration and licensing

To work as a neurosurgeon in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.