Monday, April 1, 2013

How To Be... a Brain Surgeon

Have you heard, "It's not brain surgery?" Well, sometimes, it is.

The most interesting thing I've found out about this career is that it takes much longer to become a brain surgeon in the United States than it does anywhere else in the world. That's kind of a frightening thought and one that makes me hope I never need to have my brain operated on in any place outside of the States.

But how do you become one?

Well, the old fashioned way would be to get yourself a saw (a bone saw, preferably), open up the skull, and poke around a bit to see what would happen. That's rather frowned upon these days, though, even if it is funny to poke someone's brain and make his leg jerk. What that means is that this is not a "do it yourself" career path. Basically, you're looking at 15+ years of post secondary education for this one: four years of college, four years of medical school, some time interning (a year or two), and, then, five to seven years of neurosurgery residency. And that's just for the basics. If you want to specialize, then you get some additional training. It's a career you need to really want to do, because you're going to be learning it for a long time.

But, hey, being a brain surgeon allows you to get to use such cool tech as the gamma knife!
My dad had one of those used on him several years ago.

There are all sorts of things we can treat, now, that used to just be a death sentence, not the least of which is aneurysms. Don't get me wrong, aneurysms are still deadly, but, if they find them in advance, now, they can often do things to prevent them from rupturing. Not like when I was a kid when we had a family friend in whom they found one (he was having headaches), and, basically, they told him all he could do was hope that it didn't burst.

So, yeah, if you're willing to put in the time, being a brain surgeon can be a cool gig. Just go ask Anne; she used to be one.

"Part Eighteen: The Angel" is still FREE! today, so go pick up a copy if you haven't done that yet.


  1. Hmmm...archaeologist, brain surgeon- I don't know. I think I'll stick to writer for now but if I ever want to change professions, I sure know where to get my information.:)Fun posts! Advancement in medicine is glad they operate on brain aneurysms today.

  2. Fifteen years of schooling - whoa. Can you imagine paying back that student loan?

  3. Wow, that is a serious commitment! I wonder how many run out of steam along that 15-year path.

  4. I could have chosen to become a brain surgeon, except the sight of open brain would probably make me faint.

    My Writing Blog
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  5. That really is a serious amount of time to be studying. Interesting topics you're chosing.

    Not getting the Shadow Spinner til its completed.


  6. A neurosurgeon where I live is a hard core smoker. Guess he never learned that cigarettes can kill ya in those 15 years of post secondary education.

  7. Too bad, I've passed my prime, so I guess I'll skip being a brain surgeon. Guess I'll stick to writing. :)

  8. My friend's dad is a brain surgeon and one of the most eclectic individuals I've ever met. He has this long pony tail and a huge collection of guns. Then there's secret corridors in his house and he gets absolutely giddy when you talk to him about his collection of old light bulbs.

  9. Yeah...nope. Couldn't be a brain surgeon. What other professions do you have? Anything involving napping?

  10. Spending a lot of time with brain doctors these days for my mom. Can't say I want to be one, but they sure do work miracles.

  11. Pfffft...fifteen years is no big deal. I've got socks that old.

    And wasn't it in Peru they found ancient skulls that showed signs of brain surgery? Probably a lot of ancient people attempted it for different reasons and with varying success. But I think in Peru they believed the victim, er, patient survived. I'll have to go see if I can find that story again.

  12. I don't have the patience or sense of commitment to finish a jigsaw puzzle, so I don't think this field would be for me.

    Dropping by from A to Z. This is my first year participating.

    Brett Minor
    Transformed Nonconformist

  13. 15 years is a lot of study. But I guess you wouldn't want someone with minimal training working on a person's brain . . .

  14. One of my best friends is a Brain Surgeon. She's one of the nicest people I've ever met too. Never a moment when she can't whip out a story that will blow my mind.

  15. So we can't just walk around and say we're brain surgeons? Hm. This poses a bit of a problem.

    Seriously though, I would say brain surgery is beyond my capabilities. It takes an extreme amount of dedication to both healing and the brain specifically to master neurosurgery. Anyone who's gone through it has my admiration.

  16. Brain surgeon...well, my grandfather was a rocket engineer, but not a brain surgeon. ;-)

    I'm so grateful for people who have both the stomach and the skills to do complicated things like that. We need 'em!

    Slithers of Thought (WR)

  17. Thank goodness we've got 'em. Hope I never need one. Cheers

  18. I couldn't do this for fear of puking into someone's skull. Or passing out in the operating room ;)

  19. Maybe I should start school to become a brain surgeon. By the time I got out my vision would be so bad and my hands so shaky that no one would let me into their heads. Now I'm starting to sound like people in my hippie days. "Hey, your gettin' into my head man!"

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  20. General comment: I apologize for the late response today. It was a Six Flags day because it's Spring Break and today is the only non-rain day we're supposed to have.

    Rebecca: And all kinds of other things! But I really couldn't go into them all. I figured aneurysms would be the things most people would be familiar with.

    Alex: I can't actually. Not with the cost of schooling today.

    TAS: Yeah, that I don't know, but brain surgeons make up only a very small percent of doctors. Did I put that in the post...?

    Misha: Oh, man, I was in a cadaver lab this one time... um... never mind.

    Jo: I hope they stay that way!

    And it is completed! Just not available that way. Yet.

    JKIR,F!: I would not want him breathing on my brain!

  21. celeste: Yeah, me, too... I'd have to start school all the way over again.

    Michael: Huh. Light bulbs. Interesting. Like a light bulb going off over someone's head.

    M.J.: Napping... Maybe I can work something in.

    S.L.: They do. They zapped a tumor out of my dad's brain with one of those gamma knives. The tumor was inoperable due to its location, and, without the gamma knife, he would have been dead years ago.

    L.G.: There are actually lots of evidences of ancient brain surgery. The Romans had some procedures, some that even worked. We have skulls where they drilled holes into people's heads, some of which were capped off with metal plates.

    Brett: What about a jigsaw puzzle of a brain?

    TGE: No, I certainly wouldn't.

  22. Rusty: Bah, now I want to know a brain surgeon, too! Why don't I know any brain surgeons?

    Jeanne: Well, we can say it. I would say it while carrying a saw and, um, a screwdriver, I think.

    Sarah: Yes, we do. Because, well, it is rocket surgery. Oh... wait...

    Chris: Me, too!

    Cassie: Okay, actually, now I want to see someone puke into someone else's skull. That's gross.

    Lee: I don't actually think we'll need to cut people's heads open for brain surgery for too much longer here.

  23. Metallica has a song called 'Crash Course In Brain Surgery'.
    Well actually, I think they covered it from...somebody.

    My grandpa's had brain surgery three times in the past 1.5 years, I'm pretty sure he's done with it.