How to Become a Surgeon

How to Become a Surgeon

Surgery is a medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques to examine or provide treatment to a variety of medical conditions, injuries, infections, and diseases. Surgeons are specially trained medical doctors that perform a variety of surgical procedures.

What does a surgeon do?

Surgeons specialize in diagnosing and treating a variety of medical conditions, illnesses, injuries, and diseases through surgical operations. They examine patients, review medical records, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and discuss treatment options. They also provide education to patients and families regarding preventative and follow-up care. Surgeons use many different instruments and typically perform procedures while patients are under anesthesia. They repair bone and tissues after injuries, correct physical deformities, and perform preventative surgery on patients with debilitating conditions. Surgeons often work with primary care physicians to create effective plans of treatment for patients.

What kind of training does a surgeon need?

Surgeons typically need 8 years of education after high school and 3 to 8 years of internship and residency training. They must complete an undergraduate degree and medical school. Medical school provides intensive classroom and laboratory instruction and clinical rotations of all major medical disciplines. After medical school, prospective surgeons must complete internship and residency training in general surgery. All states require surgeons to be licensed. Licensing requirements include graduation from an accredited medical school, graduate medical education, and passing a licensing examination. Many surgeons become board certified from the American Board of Medical Specialists or the American Osteopathic Association. Surgeons must complete continuing education regularly to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills up to date, and to stay abreast on advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a surgeon?

Employment of surgeons is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for surgical procedures will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for surgeons in rural and low-income areas. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace surgeons that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do surgeons make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of surgeons earn annual salaries between $248,728 and $363,639. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $426,010 (2).

A career as a surgeon is an excellent choice for people with a strong interest in providing surgical treatment to a variety of patients. Surgeons must have a solid knowledge of many different surgical procedures and their application to a vast amount of medical conditions. Manual dexterity, patience, eye-hand coordination, determination, and flexibility are necessary traits. Surgeons must have excellent communication and bedside manner and the ability to interact with a variety of patients and other professionals. They must also be able to work effectively as part of a team and make effective decisions in emergency situations.

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