Surgeon - How to Become a Surgeon

Surgeon

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Surgeon Job Description

 

Surgeons are physicians who've specialized in the treatment of diseases, injuries, deformities, or other ailments through both invasive and non-invasive operations. Typically, surgeons are consulted and used under the most extreme circumstances, such as life-threatening traumas resulting from events such as car accidents or falls.

Surgeons experience some of the highest levels of stress throughout their work due to the nature of their job. With the patient's life depending on their success, aspiring surgeons must be capable of thriving under pressure to get the job done.

Aspiring surgeons can choose from many specialties, including brain surgery, heart surgery, trauma surgery, and others.

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Responsibilities

 

Depending on the surgeon's specialty, responsibilities can vary. However, these are the primary responsibility that all surgeons are tasked with:

  • Gathering information and maintaining proper medical records to ensure the best course of action depending upon the patient's condition.

  • Arranging and manage x-rays and other tests to gather information.

  • Prescribing both pre- and post-operative treatments including sedation and antibiotics.

  • Explaining treatment plans and procedures to the patient and their family, as well as the associated risks.

  • Coordinating with other medical professionals, including nurses and physicians, before and after operations, to ensure proper care.

  • Conducting research to develop new surgical techniques that may improve outcomes.

  • Maintaining the operating room by ensuring the sterility of equipment and instruments.

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Skills

 

Communication

Must be able to clearly explain test results and treatment path to patients. Must correspond with other members of the medical team to ensure the best care for the patient.

Monitoring

Monitoring/assessing patient to make sure they are responding well to treatment and make improvements or take corrective action when necessary.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Detail-Oriented

Must be able to pinpoint small details that could make or break patient diagnosis and evaluation. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions.

Empathy

Must be able to empathize with a patient's pain and difficulties. Need to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves since they deal with people with medical needs.

Science

Must know all about the human body and interactions it has with it's environment. Must know chemicals and reactions.

Troubleshooting

Must be able to hypothesize and test theories to ensure that the proper diagnosis is found and the best treatment path is taken.

Patience

Must be able to put in long hours and have patience when it comes to trying to create comprehensive treatment plans.

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Working Conditions 

 

Surgeons can work in hospitals, academia, institutional practices, private practices, emergency settings, and government programs, including military. Surgeons experience long hours and are often on call 24/7, so overall hours can vary dramatically.

They also experience some of the highest levels of stress in the healthcare industry due to the nature of their positions. Those who manage stress well and thrive in high-pressure situations should consider becoming a surgeon.

 


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How to Become a Surgeon:

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

Aspiring family physicians must first complete a bachelor's degree program in order to continue on to medical school. Traditionally, premed programs offered by nearly all major universities, but are not necessarily required to enter medical school. Programs that emphasize science, such as biology, physics, or physiology, may also be sufficient as medical school qualifications. However, those that are certain they want to enter this, or any other, medical profession should pursue a premed program.

 

The preparation timeline below offers an example premed curriculum: 

 

Grade Level

Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • Health Care Systems

  • Biology I & Lab

  • Biology II & Lab

  • Calculus I

  • Chemistry I & Lab

  • Chemistry II & Lab

  • English I

  • Psychology 

  • Humanities Requirements

  • Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Public Health

  • Anatomy & Physiology I & Lab

  • Anatomy & Physiology II & Lab

  • Statistics

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab

  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab

  • Basic Skills for Healthcare

  • Nutrition

  • Humanities Requirements

  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Healthcare Communication

  • Healthcare Professional Writing

  • Genetics & Microbiology I & Lab

  • Physics I & Lab

  • Physics II & Lab

  • Problems in Healthcare

  • Healthcare Research

  • Biochemistry I & Lab

  • Humanities Requirements

  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Health in the US

  • Health Education and Planning

  • Healthcare Management

  • Health Policy

  • Capstone

  • Remaining Requirements

  • Remaining Electives

 

2. Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

 

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.

 

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

 

Section/Category

 Section Breakdown

Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry

Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • 59 multiple-choice questions

  • 95 minutes

  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology

Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills

  • 53 multiple-choice questions

  • 90 minutes

  • Tests reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

 

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website here.

 

3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)

 

A list of accredited medical education programs is available through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). For more information and advice on successfully getting into medical school, you can check with the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Medical school consists of four years of studying the basics in science and participating in clinical “rotations.” These are hands-on clinical experiences in real health care settings. In most med schools, the first two years are taken up with classroom studies before students are assigned to do rotations. The current trend, however, finds a number of medical schools exposing students to early clinical experiences that continue throughout the four-year program.

Most medical schools base their curriculum on a system-based approach that focuses on one physiological system at a time, such as the respiratory system or the nervous system. Still others may use a case-based curriculum that teaches about the human body’s normal functioning and disease processes by assigning students to following individual patient cases from start to finish. Still other med schools use a combination of these approaches to educate their students.

The most common lines of coursework among medical schools consist of the following subjects:

  • Anatomy

  • Biochemistry

  • Ethics

  • Pharmacology

  • Physiology

  • Psychology

During the last two years of schooling, students are required to obtain hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics, learning to diagnose and treat patients while working under the supervision of licensed physicians.

Upon completion of four years of med school, a student is awarded a medical degree, or M.D. Another popular trend is for schools to offer combination degree programs, such as MD/MPH, MD/PHD or MD/JD. The AAMC’s website on Medical School Admission Requirements offers more information on this option.

 

The preparation timeline below provides an example medical school curriculum:

 

Year Example Courses

Year 1

 

  • Cells and Tissues
  • Molecular Foundations of Medicine
  • Applied Biochemistry 
  • Genetics
  • Disease Mechanisms & Development
  • Cardiac Life Support
  • The Nervous System
  • Immunology
  • Gross Anatomy of Head & Neck
  • Microbiology
  • Pulmonary System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Microbiology

Year 2

  • Renal/Genitourinary System
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Skin/Endocrine Systems
  • Reproduction & Women's Health
  • Microbiology
  • Behavior & the Brain
  • Hematology
  • Systemic Diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Clinical Clerkship

Year 3, 4, 5

 

  • Internal Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Family Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Critical Care
  • Ambulatory Med
  • Research, Reflections and Advances in Patient Care

 

4. Take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)

 

In order to practice medicine, aspiring geriatricians must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This exam is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

The exam consists of three steps:

Step & Purpose

Format & Other Info

Step 1

Assesses the ability to apply scientific concepts, basic to practicing medicine, emphasizing mechanisms underlying health, disease, and therapy.

  • 310 multiple-choice questions

  • Divided into 7 60-minute blocks

  • Administered via computer

  • One day session

Step 2

Divided into 2 sub-steps: clinical knowledge (CK) & clinical skills (CS).

 The clinical knowledge section assesses the ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and clinical science to patient care.

The clinical skills section assesses the ability to gather information from patients, perform physical exams, and communicate findings with colleagues.

  • Clinical Knowledge

    • 350 multiple-choice questions

    • Divided into 8 60-minute blocks

    • One day session

  • Clinical Skills

    • 12 patient cases

    • 15 minutes per patient case 

    • 10 minutes to record each patient note (PN)

    • Administered at 6 test centers in the US: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, & Philadelphia.

    • One day session

Step 3

Divided into 2 sub-steps: Foundations of Independent Practice(FIP) & Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM)

 Foundations of Independent Practice assesses the knowledge and principles essential for effective health care.

Advanced Clinical Medicine assesses the ability to apply knowledge of health and disease to the context of patient management and an evolving disease.

  • Foundations of Independent Practice

    • 260 multiple-choice questions

    • Divided into 6 60-minute blocks, each w/ 44 questions

    • One day session

  • Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM)

    • 200 multiple-choice questions

    • Divided into 6 45-minute blocks, each with 33 questions

    • 13 computer-based case simulations, each allotted 10 or 20 minutes

    • One day session

 

5. Complete an Internship (1 Year)

 

Neurologists are required to complete a 1 year basic training year prior to beginning their residency program. These are designed to train graduates in both surgical and internal medicine rotations while preparing them for entry into their chosen specialty.

Transitional programs can be found on the FREIDA online database.

 

6. Complete a General Surgery Residency Program (3 - 4 Years)

 

After completing med school, you aren’t finished yet. Now it’s time to choose your specialty and complete your residency. These residency programs are offered in conjunction with intensive clinical training experiences. Depending on the specialty, residency can last from three to eight years.

The American Medical Association’s online FREIDA service is an interactive database of over 9,400 graduate medical education programs. These programs are all accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. There is also information on over 200 combined specialty programs.

 

7. Become a Certified General Surgeon

 

Upon completion of the residency and other requirements set in place by the American Board of Surgery (ABS), aspiring surgeons may take the General Surgery Qualifying Examination. Next, they must take the General Surgery Certifying Examination and, once they've passed both, they may continue to complete the Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination and become a board certified trauma surgeon.

Alternatively, surgeons may also become certified in osteopathic surgery, offered by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery (AOBS). This certification is broken down into several specialties, including:

  • Cardiothoracic Surgery

  • General Surgery

  • General Vascular Surgery

  • Neurological Surgery

  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

  • Urological Surgery

  • Learn More About Osteopathic Surgery Certification Requirements

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
Seeking a qualified Orthopedic Surgeon for Orthopedic Spine surgery.
12.05.2016
Acute Care Orthopedic Surgeon-Manage trauma patients through the Emergency Department and preform inpatient consulations. Will have dedicated OR times and will be supported in the outpatient clinic by a Physician Assitant for the patients post...
12.05.2016
Doctorate Surgeon needed for nationally recognized heart program. Practice with an exceptionally skilled team of clinicians in a state-of-the-art facility. Growing cardiac program offers VATS, TAVR, CABG, robotic surgeries, lung procedures and...
12.05.2016
Orthopedic Surgeon St. Luke Community Healthcare is seeking a full-time Orthopedic Surgeon to join a team of dedicated health care professionals in a patient-focused environment. We offer the following benefits: Competitive compensation...
12.05.2016
Amid the stunning scenery of the Columbia Basin, along the banks of Lake Roosevelt and Banks Lake, and in the shadow of Grand Coulee Dam, sits Douglas, Grant, Lincoln and Okanogan Counties Public Hospital District # 6 doing business as Coulee...
12.05.2016
DUTIES: Partner with a second surgeon in a general orthopedic practice to evaluate, diagnose, and treat America's veterans. Fifty percent of the practice is focused on total joint repair / replacement, the other 50% consists of a broad mix of...
12.07.2016
DescriptionOrthopedic Surgery Opportunity with St. Anthony Physicians ShawneeSt. Anthony Physicians Shawnee is actively recruiting a BE/BC Orthopedic Surgeon to join a large, very busy multi-specialty physician and provider practice in Shawnee,...
12.05.2016
Seeking a qualified Neurosurgeon for the neurosurgery outpatient clinic. Part of a highly skilled interdisciplinary team providing high quality, inpatient services. Appropriate licensure/certifications required.
12.05.2016
Seeking a qualified Neurosurgeon. Part of a highly skilled interdisciplinary team providing high quality, inpatient services. Appropriate licensure/certifications required.
12.05.2016
PRACTICE SPECIFICS Essentia Health in Duluth, Minnesota is looking to hire a surgeon in the trauma surgery department. The surgeon would be expected to be board certified or eligible in general surgery, and board certified or eligible in...
12.05.2016
PHYSICIANBoard certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) Eligible for unrestricted medical licensure in the State of Minnesota Prefer physician with over 5 years of practice, and significant experience as primary surgeon with...
12.05.2016
TRAUMA/SURGICAL CRITICAL CARE/ACUTE CARE SURGERY Duluth, Minnesota Essentia Health, headquartered in Duluth, Minn., is an integrated health system serving patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho. Essentia began fully...
12.05.2016
12.05.2016
12.05.2016
The Physician provides direct patient care. Adheres to National Patient Safety Goals as appropriate based on the level of patient contact this position requires. INTEGRIS Health is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Essential...
  1. Orthopedic Surgeon Springfield, MA Sisters of Providence Health System
    Seeking a qualified Orthopedic Surgeon for Orthopedic Spine surgery.
  2. Orthopedic Surgeon Springfield, MA Sisters of Providence Health System
    Acute Care Orthopedic Surgeon-Manage trauma patients through the Emergency Department and preform inpatient consulations. Will have dedicated OR times and will be supported in the outpatient clinic by a Physician Assitant for the patients post...
  3. Cardiovascular Surgeon Pinehurst, NC FirstHealth of the Carolinas
    Doctorate Surgeon needed for nationally recognized heart program. Practice with an exceptionally skilled team of clinicians in a state-of-the-art facility. Growing cardiac program offers VATS, TAVR, CABG, robotic surgeries, lung procedures and...
  4. Orthopedic Surgeon Ronan, MT St. Luke Community Healthcare
    Orthopedic Surgeon St. Luke Community Healthcare is seeking a full-time Orthopedic Surgeon to join a team of dedicated health care professionals in a patient-focused environment. We offer the following benefits: Competitive compensation...
  5. Orthopedic Surgeon Grand Coulee, WA Coulee Medical Center
    Amid the stunning scenery of the Columbia Basin, along the banks of Lake Roosevelt and Banks Lake, and in the shadow of Grand Coulee Dam, sits Douglas, Grant, Lincoln and Okanogan Counties Public Hospital District # 6 doing business as Coulee...
  6. Physician-Orthopedic Surgeon Des Moines, IA VA Central Iowa Health Care System
    DUTIES: Partner with a second surgeon in a general orthopedic practice to evaluate, diagnose, and treat America's veterans. Fifty percent of the practice is focused on total joint repair / replacement, the other 50% consists of a broad mix of...
  7. Physician - Orthopedic Surgeon Oklahoma City, OK St. Anthony Hospital
    DescriptionOrthopedic Surgery Opportunity with St. Anthony Physicians ShawneeSt. Anthony Physicians Shawnee is actively recruiting a BE/BC Orthopedic Surgeon to join a large, very busy multi-specialty physician and provider practice in Shawnee,...
  8. Surgeon Springfield, MA Sisters of Providence Health System
    Seeking a qualified Neurosurgeon for the neurosurgery outpatient clinic. Part of a highly skilled interdisciplinary team providing high quality, inpatient services. Appropriate licensure/certifications required.
  9. Surgeon Springfield, MA Sisters of Providence Health System
    Seeking a qualified Neurosurgeon. Part of a highly skilled interdisciplinary team providing high quality, inpatient services. Appropriate licensure/certifications required.
  10. PHYSICIAN-Trauma Surgeon, Duluth MN Duluth, MN Essentia Health
    PRACTICE SPECIFICS Essentia Health in Duluth, Minnesota is looking to hire a surgeon in the trauma surgery department. The surgeon would be expected to be board certified or eligible in general surgery, and board certified or eligible in...
  11. PHYSICIAN-Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Duluth, MN Duluth, MN Essentia Health
    PHYSICIANBoard certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) Eligible for unrestricted medical licensure in the State of Minnesota Prefer physician with over 5 years of practice, and significant experience as primary surgeon with...
  12. PHYSICIAN-Trauma Surgeon, Duluth MN Duluth, MN Essentia Health
    TRAUMA/SURGICAL CRITICAL CARE/ACUTE CARE SURGERY Duluth, Minnesota Essentia Health, headquartered in Duluth, Minn., is an integrated health system serving patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho. Essentia began fully...
  13. GENERAL SURGEON Springfield, MA Sisters of Providence Health System
  14. Vascular Surgeon St. Paul, MN HealthEast Care System
  15. General Surgeon Oklahoma City, OK INTEGRIS Health
    The Physician provides direct patient care. Adheres to National Patient Safety Goals as appropriate based on the level of patient contact this position requires. INTEGRIS Health is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Essential...