How to Become a Surgeon in 2023

In the medical field, a surgeon is a doctor who performs surgical operations. While this is a demanding career that requires years of education, it’s also incredibly rewarding. After all, it’s one of the only medical areas where you can see almost instantaneous results with your patients.

In this article, we will delve into the education requirements, average salary, types of duties, and advancement opportunities that surgeons can expect to encounter throughout their careers.

About Surgeons

Surgeons are medical doctors who specialize in performing surgical procedures to treat deformities, injuries, and diseases. They utilize a wide array of tools ranging from simple scalpels to cutting-edge robotic devices. While many surgeons practice general surgery, others choose to specialize in specific areas such as cardiovascular surgery, neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery, or plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Aside from performing surgeries, surgeons also conduct patient consultations, diagnostic tests, and provide guidance on leading a healthy lifestyle. They can work in various settings, including physician’s offices, hospitals, private practices, or group practices. In recent years, group practices have gained popularity among surgeons as they provide the opportunity to collaborate with other medical professionals, coordinate patient care, and enjoy a better work-life balance.

Education and Experience Needed

Since surgeons have such a complex job, they also have demanding education requirements. Surgeons start with four years of undergraduate study focusing on a major that relates to medicine, such as biology, chemistry, or physics. Once they earn their bachelor’s degree, they must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) so they can apply to medical school.

During medical school, they’ll take classes that include anatomy, physiology, pathology, ethics, psychology, medical law, and more. These programs also require the students to go through rotations to learn the basics of patient care in a variety of specialties. Once they graduate from four years of medical school, they’ll have a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. After that, they need to complete three to eight years of surgical residency at a hospital. During the residency, students will begin earning a salary and receive training under the supervision of other experienced surgeons.

Average Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that wages for surgeons are among the highest of all occupations. Salaries for surgeons vary depending upon whether they’re in a specialized field or not. The BLS reports that in 2022, the median annual compensation for a general surgeon was $347,870. However, salaries can also vary depending on the surgeon’s number of years in practice, hours worked, location of practice, skill, and even professional reputation.

Average Duties and Tasks

Although they might not operate every day of the week, a typical workday for a surgeon usually starts early in the morning. If they’re operating that day, they’ll want to meet with their preoperative patients and the families before surgery to go over any last-minute tests or questions. After that, they’ll report to the operating room to perform or assist in any surgical procedures scheduled for that day.

Once they’re done in the operating room, they’ll meet with their postoperative patients to see how they’re coming along in the healing process. On certain days, surgeons will also meet with new patients to review test results and come up with a treatment plan.

Advancement Opportunities

Although some view surgeons as reaching the pinnacle of a career, there are actually advancement opportunities in this field. With years of experience, some surgeons can become chief surgeons or lead administrators at a hospital. In this role, they oversee and supervise other surgical procedures to make sure all patients are getting the best care possible. They’ll also help create training seminars to make sure their surgeons are educated on the latest procedures, policies, and practices.

Another field some surgeons choose to go into is education. In this position, seasoned surgeons teach the next generation of surgeons in medical schools. Although this is often viewed as a lateral career move instead of a promotion, some surgeons who are nearing retirement age choose this path because academic settings are typically slower and less stressful than hospitals.


Embarking on a journey to become a surgeon entails dedication, perseverance, and a strong commitment to patient care. As you weigh your options and decide whether this is the right career path for you, consider the valuable information presented here.

Becoming a surgeon offers a challenging yet immensely rewarding profession that enables you to positively impact the lives of others.

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