How to Become a Transplant Surgeon

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Organ transplantation is an essential part of the medical field that deals with moving a human organ from one person to another to improve function and save life. It is a complicated process that requires a highly trained medical professional to perform. This is the job of transplant surgeons.


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What does a transplant surgeon do?

Transplant surgeons are specially trained medical doctors that perform surgical procedures to remove organs and tissues from one person’s body and place them in another person’s body. It is typically done to replace an organ that is damaged or not functioning properly. Transplant surgeons remove the faulty organ and replace it with a healthy organ from an organ donor. They often work with living organ donors and follow-up with patients that have received transplants. Transplant surgeons often specialize on a specific organ such as the liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, and skin. Some also specialize in specific tissues such as tendons, heart valves, and veins.

What kind of training does a transplant surgeon need?

Transplant surgeons must complete an undergraduate degree, medical school, internship and residency training, and fellowship training. Medical school provides intensive instruction and clinical rotations of all major medical disciplines. After medical school, prospective transplant surgeons must complete an internship and residency training in general surgery. They must become board certified in general surgery from the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS). They then must complete an accredited fellowship training program in transplant surgery. They can then become board certified from the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. All states require all surgeons to be licensed to practice. Transplant surgeons must stay up to date on developments in the field and keep their skills current. They often complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a transplant surgeon?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increase in emergency situations will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for trauma nurses with extensive experience. Numerous job openings will stem from the need to replace trauma nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do transplant surgeons make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for transplant surgeons is $298,000; average annual transplant surgeon salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a transplant surgeon is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in organ transplantation. Transplant surgeons must have a solid understanding of the care and transplantation of human organs. Dedication, manual dexterity, enthusiasm, and good judgment are essential characteristics. Transplant surgeons must have excellent communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team. They must also be able to work under stress and pressure and make effective decisions in emergency situations.

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