An individual who wants to become geriatric neurologist completes college, medical school, and a neurology residency. The final step is to choose a subspecialty that provides training to work in this area. The traditional route to this career is participation in a one- to two-year fellowship in geriatric neurology. Further actions are not necessary, and the specialty is usually not board-licensed. Another option is to pursue a combined neurology and psychiatry residency, which can lead to board certification in geriatric psychiatry.
To become a geriatric neurologist, students would be wise to start building up knowledge in high school. It is important for students to focus on getting strong grades in math and the sciences. Also, taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes if available can earn a few college credits.
The minimum goal should be a high school performance that earns a person entry to a decent college. If high school grades are poor, students should consider attending a community college for a couple of years. They can earn better grades, which will help them transfer to a good university in junior year, bettering their chances of acceptance to medical school.
Any student who wants to become a geriatric neurologist needs to carefully plan a college education to cover all science topics that medical schools require and that will be evaluated on standardized exams, like the Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®). An actual major isn’t that important, although studies in pre-med, science, or even psychology could be of use. It is essential to have an excellent grade point average (GPA), strong grades in science topics, and a very good score on the MCAT®, if admission to medical school is sought.
After acceptance to medical school, students will spend three years in classes and an additional year working as an intern. In internships, they’ll rotate through neurology departments, which can help confirm if this area of medicine is the right choice. Students should pay particular attention to how they feel about and interact with elderly patients. If this is not an area of comfort, geriatrics may not be the best subspecialty.
As the intern year is ending, students who want to specialize are matched with residency programs. Joint psychiatry/neurology residencies should be considered if the med student would like to be a geriatric psychiatrist. A residency in neurology is all that is needed for later training to become a geriatric neurologist.
For the individual who wants to become a geriatric neurologist, it makes sense to apply for residencies in teaching hospitals that have strong geriatric neurology programs and fellowships. There may be more opportunities to train at the residency level in the desired subspecialty. This strategy may also give doctors an edge when they submit fellowship applications.
A neurology residency requires three to four more years of training. When it is completed, doctors take board examinations and receive certification. The resident who would like to become a geriatric neurologist or psychiatrist subsequently applies to fellowships that can impart these skills.
If the doctor earns a fellowship, one to two more years of training are needed to become an expert in this field. Certification for this subspecialty is typically not available or required, though the doctor will already be recognized as a specialist in neurology. Geriatric psychiatry training is approximately the same length, but often has a final step of attaining board certification.