The road to becoming a medical professional is long, but for an aspiring surgeon, it’s even longer. It takes a lot of hard work, energy and time management. Hopefuls put in their heart and soul to accomplish this goal.
Surgeons are high-responsibility professionals who are paid accordingly, indicating a high income. The educational journey to holding this career is as long as it is because surgeons have lives in their (very steady) hands.
Below, we’ll explain what it takes to become a surgeon doctor. If you’re cut out for this job, we recommend you pursue your dream because your future patients need capable medical professionals in their lives.
The path to becoming a surgeon
It takes a long time to become a surgeon, but the investment is, well, worth it. Surgeons help patients recover from life-threatening conditions. They perform highly specialized surgeries to treat patients, which requires many years of training. Here is what you can expect from your trajectory as you start this noble career path.
How to become a surgeon
- Earn a bachelor’s degree: Before entering medical school, you’ll need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Medical students often opt for a pre-med program that covers the scientific material one needs to know before sitting for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
- Take the MCAT: Your results on the MCAT help medical schools assess if you’re ready for this next step in your education. The test covers a range of scientific subjects, from chemistry to biology, along with critical reasoning.
- Attend medical school: All to-be physicians must attend medical school, which usually takes four years. During this time, you’ll further your knowledge of medicine through coursework and clinical rotations.
- Pass the licensure exam: To practice as a doctor, you’ll need to get licensed. If you hold a Doctor of Medicine (MD), you’ll take the United States Medical Licensing Examination. If you hold a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), you’ll take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.
- Do your surgical residency: There’s no experience quite like hands-on experience, especially for surgeons. In this step, you’ll work with practiced surgeons for 3-7 years to learn the tools and techniques of your medical specialty.
- Obtain state licensure: Once you’re trained and ready for performing surgical treatment without supervision, seek licensure from your state.
What are the 14 types of surgeons and salary expectations for each?
Sitting around wondering, “what type of surgeon should I be?” There are multiple types of surgeries and surgeons. One of the perks of most medical careers is that you can get close to the area of medicine you love most by specializing or even practicing a sub-specialty. The following are the 14 different types of surgical specialties, a bit about what they entail, and some stats on income.
- General surgeon: These surgeons perform various general surgeries and operate on different body parts. They earn roughly $415,000 annually.
- Critical care surgeon: Critical care surgeons provide acute care to patients who often need life-saving surgeries. These healthcare heroes earn around $340,000 yearly.
- Colon and rectal surgeon: Colorectal surgeons treat conditions like hemorrhoids, cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis. They earn approximately $335,00 annually.
- Vascular surgeon: These surgeons work with the circulatory system, treating patients with blood and arterial conditions. They earn an annual salary of roughly $425,000.
- Surgical oncologist: These doctors perform surgical procedures on cancer patients, removing tumors and preventing the disease from spreading. Oncology surgeons bring in approximately $355,000 per year.
- Orthopedic surgeon: This type of surgeon works with patients suffering from conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, nerves, arteries and the skin. For their specialized work, they earn about $510,000 annually.
- Thoracic surgeon: These doctors perform thoracic surgeries and treat the chest, including the lungs, heart valves and airways. They earn roughly $500,000 yearly.
- Neurosurgeon: Neurosurgeons, a.k.a. brain surgeons, treat tumors, traumas, spinal cord and injuries related to the nervous system. This is one of the most specialized areas within the field. Neurosurgeons earn an average annual salary of around $640,000.
- Obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN): Surgeons in the gynecology and obstetrics specialization treat reproductive health issues and aid childbirth. They also treat infertility and cysts in the female reproductive system. For this focused work, they are paid roughly $300,000 per year.
- Urologist: These physicians work with patients with reproductive and urinary conditions, performing endoscopic and laparoscopic surgeries. Their annual salary is approximately $450,000.
- Ophthalmologist: Ophthalmologists are eye doctors trained to perform surgeries on patients with conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and vitreo-retinal issues. They earn approximately $310,000 annually.
- Otolaryngologist: Ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors perform reconstructive surgeries and plastic surgeries and treat various conditions like balance and sinus disorders. They earn approximately $395,000 per year.
- Pediatric surgeon: These healthcare professionals work with children, performing surgeries for various conditions ranging from tumors to congenital disabilities––only when intervention is the best option for the patient. Their annual income is roughly $470,000.
- Plastic surgeon: Plastic surgeons perform various cosmetic surgeries and medical interventions like breast augmentations and reductions, skin removal and nose reshaping. They earn about $415,000 annually.
Work ethic and professionalism
Surgeons save lives and free patients of life-threatening diseases and/or conditions. Not only that, but they also contribute to the medical field and society as a whole by being the healthcare professionals involved in advancements in academics, research and surgical care. They pass their learnings down to new cohorts of doctors, ensuring that every new generation of care is better than the previous one.
If you’re studying to become a surgeon, you’ll need a whole lot of green scrubs. We have comfortable, high-performance varieties with scrub caps to match, so count on us to keep you outfitted as you take on this impressive career!