Surgeons require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about How To Become a Surgeon and the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you. Surgeons treat injuries, diseases, and abnormalities using operations and other medical procedures.
To become a surgeon, you’ll need to complete four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and three to ten years of residency and fellowship training. In addition, surgeons must continue their education throughout their careers to keep their licences and stay up to date on medical developments.
How To Become a Surgeon
1.Obtain a bachelor’s degree
Aspiring surgeons must first complete their undergraduate education and obtain a bachelor’s degree to enter medical school. These four-year degrees do not have to be primarily focused on medicine; however, curricula should significantly emphasize physical sciences to prepare students for medical school’s heavy concentration on science. Anatomy, biology, chemistry, algebra, and physiology courses may be useful. Some medical schools accept students after just three years of college.
2.Pass the MCAT
Following a bachelor’s degree, the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, is used to continue the path to become a surgeon. The MCAT should be studied well before graduating from a bachelor’s degree programme, as it is a lengthy exam. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) maintains several online resources to assist students preparing for the MCAT who want to be surgeons or other medical professionals.
3.Obtain a medical degree
With bachelor’s degrees, students are prepared to attend medical school and pursue Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degrees. M.D. degree program curricula are generally divided into two years of foundational medical courses and two years of clinical clerkships. During clerkships, students work directly with patients, applying classroom instruction obtained in the first two years to diagnose illnesses and provide healthcare.
4.Complete a medical residency
Students often continue their medical education after medical school in residency programmes, where they obtain practical experience in a selected specialty under the supervision of licenced physicians. General surgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, and urology are some of the disciplines available.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), these programmes can run anywhere from three to seven years, depending on the specialty, with general surgery residencies taking five years on average. In addition, surgeons who want to specialize in a sub-specialty of surgery must pursue extra post-doctoral training in fellowship programmes for an additional 1-3 years.
5.Obtain a medical license
All states require surgeons to get medical licensure in addition to lengthy, formal training from an approved medical school. Passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam is required for licensure. Surgeons must also be board-certified by the American Board of Medical Specialists or the American Osteopathic Association in surgery and any subspecialties. To keep their licences and certifications, surgeons must take continuing education courses throughout their careers.
Surgeon Career Summary
Surgeons are specialized physicians who operate on patients to correct or remove malformations, repair injuries or conduct preventative procedures. They may also conduct examinations on patients and advise them on their medical situations. Many surgeons specialize in one particular field, such as orthopedic, cardiovascular or neurological surgery.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), surgeons and physicians are expected to experience a rise in job opportunities in the coming years (www.bls.gov). Overall employment was expected to grow 4% from 2019-2029, which is average for all professions. The demand for surgeons is attributed to continuing development of healthcare and associated industries and a growing elderly population in the United States.
Surgeons are some of the highest-paid professionals of any occupation. In May 2019, the BLS reported that surgeons earned a mean salary of $252,040 per year. This equates to around or more than $100 per hour in many cases. Even the lowest-paid 10% of surgeons earned a median salary of $83,740 in 2019.
How to Become a Surgeon
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree
- Pass the MCAT
- Obtain a medical degree
- Complete a medical residency
- Obtain a medical license