The path to becoming a surgeon begins long before you ever walk into an operating room. If you decide you want to be a surgeon before beginning college, your career goal will play a role in your college decision. If you wait until you are in college to make your decision, you might have to work harder or enter the field a few years later than others. You will be studying for several years before you begin your career, but you will have many opportunities in the lucrative field if you are focused and talented.
Your first step to becoming a surgeon is choosing a college that offers a strong pre-med program. You will need to achieve high grades to get into medical school once you have a bachelor’s degree. Schools with better reputations increase your chances of being accepted into medical school. Your undergraduate course load will include classes like physics, biology, organic chemistry, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and electives to help you be a well-rounded medical student.
As you finish your bachelor’s degree, you will apply to medical schools. In addition to solid grades, prospective medical school students must also take the Medical College Admission Test and submit several recommendation letters from instructors, advisors, and employers.
Medical school is usually a four year program. Medical students study physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology, microbiology, medical ethics, and medical law. High grades continue to be important because you will need to be accepted into a residency program. Residency programs for surgeons are at least five to seven years. They expose you to a variety of aspects of the field and give you a hands-on look into the operating room. This is the point when you will really begin to focus on being a surgeon, as opposed to a general physician or other type of doctors. Following your residency program, you are eligible to apply for a physician’s license and certification.
Most surgeons continue their working education through a fellowship program. For instance, emergency room surgeons will spend time in an acute care surgery fellowship or a trauma fellowship. Depending on your specialization, you might need to take further licensing and certification exams. Once you are a full-fledged surgeon and practicing, your education will still need to continue. It is important for surgeons to stay on top of advancements in their particular field.
It is important for potential medical students to understand the benefits and challenges of the career. Few doctors or surgeons attend school without securing a number of student loans. In addition to student loan payments, you will also need to consider paying for malpractice insurance and continuing education programs for the remainder of your career. However, as a surgeon, you will be one of the highest earners in the medical field. Surgeons earn an average of a quarter million dollars per year.