What Type of Medical Degree Do I Need to Become a Surgeon?

Become a surgeonWhat type of medical degree do you need to become a surgeon? If you are contemplating a career in the exciting world of medicine, this is probably one of the many questions you are pondering. While the answer depends in part on exactly what type of surgeon you wish to become, all surgeons require at least two degrees as part of their education.

Undergraduate degree

A prospective surgeon’s college education begins with a four year undergraduate degree. According to Global Post’s article, “What Type of Degrees Do You Need to Be a General Surgeon,” students can select any major that fulfills the admission requirements of the medical or osteopathic college they hope to attend. Prerequisites vary between schools, so be sure to find out exactly what your desired school requires. Most students preparing for medical school choose to earn their Bachelor degrees in the sciences, because these degrees tend to meet the requirements best. You should plan on taking courses in biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and statistics. Upper level courses in topics like microbiology and organic chemistry may also be prerequisites.

Graduate degree

After completing their Bachelor degrees, aspiring surgeons must set their sights on earning a four year degree from a medical or osteopathic college. A Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree is one of the highest degrees in the field of medicine. The initial two years of study are spent on coursework that provides a solid foundation in the theory and science of modern medicine. Students learn about microbiology, epidemiology, immunology, psychology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical genetics, gross anatomy, physiology, organ systems and other advanced topics. Ethics and medical law are also covered. The final two years are dedicated to getting hands-on experience via clinical rotations and clerkships. Prospective surgeons should make every effort to get assigned to as many surgical rotations as possible. At the end of the four years, students will be eligible to take the exam for their medical licenses.

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Additional requirements

Eight years of academic study and two degrees are not enough to qualify you to become a surgeon. After graduating from medical school, aspiring surgeons will spend several years in a surgical residency. If you wish to become a general surgeon, you will be required to spend a minimum of five years in a surgical residency. If you prefer to specialize, expect to spend at least six to eight years completing your residency.

During their surgical residency, students will learn and practice clinical, diagnostic and surgical skills under the watchful eyes of experienced surgeons, attending physicians and even senior residents. As they progress in their education and become more skilled, students are allotted greater independence and more responsibility. With time and hard work, they will be regarded as senior residents and be assigned to help train the newer students. When the surgical residency wraps up, newly minted surgeons are able to take the two-part exam required by the American Board of Surgery in order to become board-certified general surgeon.

The road to becoming a surgeon is long and challenging. Like any journey, it goes more smoothly with planning. Understanding what type of medical degree is needed to become a surgeon will allow you to map out the best educational path for you.