The process of becoming a surgeon is a substantial commitment, so be sure to familiarize yourself with what is required in order to become a surgeon prior to embarking on this journey. Learning more about the responsibilities of surgeons and what is involved in their day-to-day routine will also be invaluable. Do your research and find out what kinds of jobs for surgeons are available, read through the descriptions and decide if this is really something that you’d like to pursue.
What Do Surgeons Do?
A surgeon does a lot more than just perform surgery. Surgeons work in outpatient clinics, carry out rounds on the ward to check up on patients, and perform an extensive amount of administrative work. You will also need to work with a team of other medical professionals, such as anaesthetists, technicians, nurses and other surgeons. Surgeons often work long hours and have to be on call on a regular basis. Being a surgeon is definitely challenging; however, the work is diverse and incredibly rewarding.
Obtaining Work Experience
Prior to applying for medical school, you can look for volunteer or paid opportunities in the healthcare field to get a better idea of whether or not medicine is, in fact, the career path for you. Having relevant work experience to include on your application to medical school will also demonstrate your interest in the field. Look for opportunities in hospitals or nursing homes. You may even be able to find a work placement opportunity that enables you to shadow a doctor.
Getting Into Medical School
In the UK, you can apply to attend medical school straight out of secondary school. Typically, you will need three A levels with a combination of two science subjects and mathematics, but there are exceptions depending on which schools you are applying to. You may also need to take either the UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test) or the BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test) in order to qualify for admission. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the requirements of all of the schools you are considering before you apply, and also be sure to apply to multiple schools to maximize your chances of being accepted. In order to become a surgeon, you will need either a five-year degree in medicine or a six-year degree if you decide to do an intercalated degree in a related subject, such as a Bachelor of Science.
During and After Medical School
Your first two years of medical school usually involve course work, and the following three years consist of hands-on clinical placements. If you haven’t narrowed down your area of focus yet, you will likely choose a surgical speciality during the first years of your post-graduate training. Once you have graduated from medical school your post-graduate training will begin, which involves two years of medical rotations, two years of training as a core surgical trainee and six or more years of specialist training. Close to the end of this period, you may then take an exam to obtain the FRCS (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons) diploma. Once you have completed all the required training and have obtained your diploma, you will finally be ready to become a consultant surgeon.
Being a surgeon is a great responsibility and involves continuous learning and improvement; however, it is also a very gratifying career, which allows you to connect with many different people and really make a difference in their lives.