Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. The term neuroscientist
applies to a broad range of careers that can look at many different aspects
of the nervous system. For example, neuroscientists can study nerve cells
on a molecular and cellular level, neural networks, or the brain.
"Neuroscientists are employed in a wide variety of occupations that make
use of their training," says Deanna Benson. Benson is a professor of neuroscience
at a school of medicine in New York. "Research is the first to come to mind,
because that's how we are all trained, but there are many other career options."
David Mintz is an assistant professor of anesthesiology and an attending
physician. His days find him both doing neurology research and working in
the operating room.
"I spend 75 percent of my time as a neuroscientist," he says. "I work
on questions that are related to anesthesiology and how anesthetics work on
the brain, and in particular my background is in the development of the brain.
There's a concern that anesthetic exposures at early ages may alter brain
"The other 25 percent of my time, I spend in the operating rooms, where
I take care of patients who are having anesthesia for neurosurgery. I teach
residents and do all the things that academic physicians do."
Neuroscientists deal with cell and tissue samples when doing research.
They use expensive machines like magnetic resonance imagers (commonly known
You've most likely heard of diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's,
Lou Gehrig's disease and Alzheimer's. Neuroscience examines all these diseases
because they are based in the nervous system.
The work is intense and requires lots of concentration. You should be eager
to get answers out of complex problems if you'd like to be a neuroscientist.
Neuroscientists have to be able to work well with others and to focus
very intensely while working alone. They need to have strong math, communication
and decision-making skills.
"In all areas of health care, communication is very important, but especially
so when working with vulnerable patients," adds Sue Kadyschuk. Kadyschuk
is a past president of an association of neuroscience nurses. She's also qualified
to be a clinical nurse educator in the area of neurosurgery. "We find that
many of the conflicts that happen on our unit start with poor communication."