Our society has increasingly complex medical demands. Because of this, there is always a need for highly trained medical staff. Many of us dream of becoming a surgeon, but this is a very hard goal to achieve, not in the least because of the length of time it will take you. Becoming a surgeon takes numerous sleepless nights and incredibly long hours of work. Besides this, you will be faced with emotionally tense situations, such as having to tell family members that surgery was not successful and that their loved one has died. You also have to feel comfortable about using medical instruments on actual, living, human beings and being exposed to what is essentially blood and gore.
If this is something you feel you are able to do, and you manage, you will emerge a more caring person and wise beyond your years. Of course, you will also enjoy the amazing salary that comes with it (surgeon salary is on average, $166,400 in the United States or £160,000, although these wages are only for fully trained surgeons). The training takes between eight and twelve years to complete, which is a long period of time.
How to Become a Surgeon in the United States
Firstly, you need to attend college as an undergraduate, and you have to major in a subject. Usually, there are no fixed parameters on which subject you should major in, but certain subjects will stand you in your good stead. For instance, biology, chemistry or other sciences will always be useful.
Next, you need to take at least one year of chemistry, including lab experience, one year of general chemistry, again with lab, one year of organic chemistry, with lab, one year of physics, with lab and a full semester of genetics. Besides this, you must have taken an English course and a humanities course. It is also recommended to take a course in biochemistry, as medical school will go through these things very quickly.
Students are recommended to put themselves through the MCAT, with some schools turning people down without it. The score of your MCAT and your GPA will be considered, as well as any extracurricular activities you take part in. Once you have all of this in place, you can apply for medical school and hope to be accepted. This is the biggest part of the learning process.
You will spend a good two years learning about basic science and you will have low level exposure to the medical system. In the third year, you will be experiencing the clinical medical system, learning about the operation and cooperation of the different fields of medicine. In the last year, you will start doing real hands on activities. Here, you will learn about clinical medicine and you will start to choose what you want to do. You will need to start applying for a surgical residency at this time too. If you already know that you want to be a dental surgeon (not dentist), you can skip medical school and go to dental school instead. Once you have completed your four years of training, you need to take part in a surgical residency. You will have to take the USMLE Board exam, fill out applications, complete clerkships and receive letters of recommendations and get interviews. This will, hopefully, secure you a training position in the surgical field.
You internship is your first year of residency, during which time you will start to work full time and receive your practice license. You then have to take part in a specific surgical residency program, which takes between five and seven years to complete. Here, you will work through different clinics and hospitals and learn through experience. This is also where you choose the kind of surgery you want to work in, although you could opt for general surgery. There are many types of surgeons, so choose wisely. You will then need to pass a licensing exam, after which you are finally a surgeon.
How to Become a Surgeon in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the steps to become a surgeon are very similar. You start as a school student, taking A levels in fields that are relevant to the industry. You then attend medical school and upon completion will work as a foundation doctor. You then move on to the core program. After the core program, you can choose a speciality, making you an ST3 and beyond speciality trainee. This is what will determine the types of surgery you will eventually operate in.