How Do You Become a Surgeon?

SurgeonIn order to concentrate your medical practice for treating disease, injury, or physical malformations through surgical operations, you will need to become a surgeon. Along with actually performing medical procedures within the operating room, surgeons are responsible for examining patients, performing diagnostic evaluations, interpreting test results, and counseling patients on after-surgery healthcare routines. Surgeons often further specialize by becoming a cardiologist, gastroenterologist, ophthalmologist, orthopedist, neurologist, plastic surgeon, and more. According to the American Board of Medical Specialities, regardless of your chosen sub-specialties in surgery, the following is a step-by-step guide on how you can become a surgeon and perform vital healing procedures.

Pursue a Relevant Bachelor’s Degree

Before furthering their education in medical school, aspiring surgeons are required to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program from an accredited institution. While the majority of universities do not offer a pre-med major to specifically focus on medicine, surgeons can complete a bachelor’s degree in any major that has a strong emphasis on physical sciences in preparation for gaining admissions to medical school. Students preparing to be surgeons often will have a major in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, mathematics, biology, physics, or the social sciences. Undergraduate students should also beef up their application by gaining hands-on experience in a healthcare setting by volunteering at a local hospital or interning at a clinic.

Earn a Medical Doctor (M.D.) Degree

Once you have achieved a bachelor’s degree, you will need to attend medical school in order to pursue a Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree. Due to the fact that medical schools are highly competitive, applicants will be required to submit undergraduate transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), letters of recommendation, and a resume of work/volunteer experiences. Most med students will spend the first two years in classrooms taking courses in biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and anatomy as well as in laboratories building practical skills. During the final two years, aspiring surgeons will work in clerkships directly with patients in conducting physical examinations, diagnosing illnesses, and providing treatment services.

Complete Post-Doctoral Residency Training

After graduation from medical school, students generally will have to continue medical training through a residency program to obtain practical experience in the chosen specialty area of surgery under the guidance of licensed healthcare providers. On average, residency programs for surgeons can last anywhere from three to eight years based on the subspecialty, but general surgery residencies usually require five years. Whether focusing on general surgery, orthopedic surgery, urology, radiology, or plastic surgery, surgeons will often complete an additional one to three years of post-doctoral training in a fellowship for their chosen specialty after fulfilling all requirements for the residency.

Achieve Medical Licensure to Practice

Regardless of which state you live in, every surgeon in the United States will need to be properly licensed in order to practice. Although requirements for licensing certainly vary by state, candidates will generally need to graduate from an accredited medical schools, successfully finish residency training, and pass a practical examination in surgery. After receiving proper licensure, many surgeons also increase their credentials by seeking board certification by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

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Overall, surgeons are highly trained healthcare professionals who are responsible for operating on patients to provide an effective solution to treating injuries, diseases, tumors, and physical deformities. When you follow these steps to become a surgeon, you will develop the compassion, patience, attention to detail, dexterity, physical stamina, leadership abilities, and communication skills needed to excel in this in-demand healthcare profession.