Starting a career in brain surgery

This is a response to Starting a career in UX with a nod towards “Help! Is there a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the room?”

I get asked about how to become a brain surgeon rarely, if at all. Here is my advice.

  1. Buy scrubs and a box of disposable latex gloves.
  2. Start diagnosing the illnesses of anybody who claims to have a little bit of a headache. (The simpler the better)
  3. Study WebMD headache treatments.
  4. Study the Mayo Clinic’s headache treatments.
  5. Study the NY Times Diagnosis column for inspiration.
  6. Revise and update your diagnosis everyday.
  7. Have friends/family/strangers give you feedback. (Use your mobile phone to record these consultations if you can.) Ask broad questions, then be silent. Don’t answer the user’s questions. Watch them struggle. Listen to what they say. Then ask more questions.
  8. Post on until you can get a invitation.
  9. Start practising on cadavers.
  10. Study for hints and tips.
  11. Just before you feel ready, attend an annual scientific meeting. (Others will depend on your work. You will get lots of feedback. Have tough skin. Learn. Meet friends. Maybe get a job offer.)

The only thing holding you back from being a brain surgeon these days is practice. A scalpel is less than $10. The rest is hard work and studying. Don’t let the quality of your work in the beginning get you down. You will improve with time.

There are many other resources available but these should start you off on the right foot. If you follow these steps, I would love to hear about it and see your progress.

Good luck!

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