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Q I’m in grade 10 and want to be­come a neu­ro­sur­geon. I wish to con­tinue my stud­ies abroad af­ter 12th grade. I am con­fused about which univer­sity or de­gree to choose.

AThe most im­por­tant step is to choose the right cour­ses af­ter grade 10 to meet the subject pre­req­ui­sites for ad­mis­sion. As is the case in In­dia, it is highly com­pet­i­tive to gain ad­mis­sion to study medicine around the world. The UK, Ire­land and cer­tain other Euro­pean coun­tries pro­vide di­rect ad­mis­sion into medicine while coun­tries such as the US and Canada need stu­dents to have a re­lated un­der­grad­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tion prior to ad­mis­sion to medicine (called pre-med). In high school you would be re­quired to study chem­istry, maths, bi­ol­ogy and/or physics. The UK re­quires a stu­dent to ob­tain ex­tremely high grades in these sub­jects along with an IELTS of 7.5. You should also score well in an ex­ter­nal en­trance exam (UKCAT or the BMAT).

Be care­ful about the reg­is­tra­tion and exam dates as they tend to be much ear­lier than ap­pli­ca­tion dates for other sub­jects.

Also de­pend­ing on the univer­sity you want to ap­ply to, you would need to de­cide which exam to sit for. For stu­dents who do not meet the strin­gent and ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive en­try re­quire­ments, both the UK and Ire­land of­fer a very pop­u­lar al­ter­na­tive known as the Foun­da­tion Pro­gramme.

Com­plet­ing your med­i­cal de­gree leads to pro­vi­sional then full reg­is­tra­tion with the Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil. Sub­se­quently, stu­dents are re­quired to do two years’ res­i­dency and take the MRCS exam. They then ap­ply for neu­ro­sur­gi­cal train­ing posts, which progress through eight stages of train­ing and take eight years to com­plete.

On com­ple­tion, a special panel will con­sider their train­ing and rec­om­mend to place them in the spe­cial­ist reg­is­ter.

In the US and Canada, can­di­dates ini­tially have to have a re­lated Bach­e­lor’s de­gree to ap­ply to med­i­cal school. Their un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree must meet pre-med req­ui­sites and have cour­ses such as hu­man anatomy, phys­i­ol­ogy, mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and bio­chem­istry. With a high GPA in the Bach­e­lors and MCAT, can­di­dates can ap­ply for med­i­cal schools of their choice. .

I strongly rec­om­mend that you do a psy­cho­me­t­ric test to en­sure you have the nec­es­sary at­tributes for this spe­cial­i­sa­tion. Hav­ing said that, once you have passed this thresh­old, the sky is the limit as neu­ro­surgery is one of the most re­spected and ad­mired fields in medicine.

SAN­JEEV VERMA is an in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion coun­sel­lor

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