Career Overview of How To Become A Surgeon

Surgeons are specialised physicians who operate on patients to correct or remove malformations, repair injuries or conduct preventative procedures on patients. They may also conduct examinations on patients and advise them on their medical situations. Many surgeons specialise in one particular field, such as orthopaedic, cardiovascular or neurological surgery.

Courses Offered

According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the courses offered include Doctorate Degree and Post-Doctoral training at degree level, Pre-Med or Biological Sciences at Degree Fields and Licensure and Board-Certification in all states at Licensure/Certification. When It comes to experience, 3-10 years of residency training is required depending on speciality. Also, the statistics reveal that the projected job growth from 2014-2024 will be around 14% for all surgeons and physicians with an average salary (2015) of $247,520.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), surgeons and physicians are expected to experience a significant rise in job opportunities in the coming years ( Overall employment was expected to grow 14% from 2014-2024. The increasing demand for surgeons is attributed to the continuing development of healthcare and associated industries and a growing elderly population.

Surgeon Education Requirements

Before entering medical school, aspiring surgeons must complete undergraduate school to earn a bachelor’s degree. These 4-year degrees do not have to focus specifically on medicine; however, curricula should focus heavily on the physical sciences to prepare students for the strong emphasis on science in medical school. Courses in anatomy, biology, chemistry, math and physiology may be beneficial. Some medical schools admit students after only three years of undergraduate school.

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 followed by 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.

Post-Doctoral Training

After medical school, students typically continue their medical training in residency programs, gaining practical experience in a chosen speciality under the supervision of licensed physicians. Some hobbies include general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, or urology.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), these programs can last 3-7 years depending on the speciality, though general surgery residencies typically take five years to complete ( Surgeons who wish to focus their careers on sub-specialties of the profession must complete an additional 1-3 years of post-doctoral training in fellowship programs.


Along with extensive, formal training from an accredited medical school, all states require surgeons to obtain medical licensure. Licensure entails passage of the United States Medical Licensing Examination or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam. Surgeons must also become board-certified in surgery and any subspecialties by the American Board of Medical Specialists or American Osteopathic Association. Surgeons are generally required to complete continuing education credits throughout their careers to maintain licensure and certification. A surgeon mainly focuses on operating on patients and requires a bachelor’s degree, medical degree, and licensure.

Image source: Natanael Melchor

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