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Brain Specialist
The brain is the seat of consciousness, reason, emotion, learning and skill - an awe-inspiring and complex region to which even the most advanced computer in the world cannot compare. Brain surgery is perhaps the oldest of the practiced medical arts.

Brain specialists or surgeons are doctors who treat abnormal conditions of the brain or who perform surgery to remove either malignant or benign tumours (abnormal growths) from the brain. Tumours deep inside the brain cannot always be removed and have to be treated or shrunk with radiation or anti-tumour chemicals. Because the brain is enclosed in the rigid bony cranium, and there is little room for anything else there, abnormal growths cause pressure on the normal brain tissue. This can result in severe headaches, convulsions, paralysis, loss of sight or normal reflexes or the ability to move certain muscles.

Sometimes brain specialists have to remove foreign objects from the brain, such as after a shooting or a car accident. To pinpoint the problem, a CT (computer tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is done. Brain surgery is intricate and delicate and must be done expertly and precisely. Extreme care must be taken to ensure that no further damage is done to the brain during the operation.

Brain surgeons work in general hospitals, private hospitals or clinics, laboratories, medical schools or even out-of-doors at the scene of an accident.

Satisfying Aspects
- saving lives
- improving a patient’s quality of life
- discovering better medical procedures
- relieving pain
- mostly good income

Demanding aspects
- intense concentration required while performing an operation
- working long hours at a time
- having leisure plans upset by emergencies
- losing a patient
- eye strain due to nature of the work in an operating theatre

- have a love of people
- be emotionally balanced
- be patient and calm
- be tactful
- be able to put patients at ease
- be accurate and meticulous
- have a very steady hand
- be a creative and innovative thinker
- be able to visualise three-dimensionally
- be able to make quick decisions in a crisis
- be responsible and ethical
- be physically fit and healthy

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Note: Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually many applicants with excellent grades who would naturally be given preference.

MBChB degree at UP, UCT, UFS, Wits, US, UL, UKZN, WSU:
- Theoretical training: 6 year
- Student internship: 1 year
- Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).

Post-graduate study for specialization as a brain surgeon: 4 years

Additional Requirements: before commencing post-graduate study for specialization as a brain surgeon the candidate must:

- be in possession of a MBChB degree for 2 years
- be registered as a medical doctor with the Interim Medical and Dental Council (IMDC) of South Africa for 1 year.

On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, the candidate must register with the IMDC as a brain surgeon.

- private practice
- hospitals and other health care facilities
- medical schools

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338-9300 Fax: (012) 328-5120