A Surgeon treats diseases, injuries, and deformities by invasive methods, such as manual manipulation or by using instruments and appliances.
Common Work Tasks
- Corrects physical deformities, repairs bone and tissue after injuries, or performs preventive surgeries on patients with debilitating diseases or disorders
- Examine patients, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and counsel patients on preventive health care
- Analyze patient’s medical history, medication allergies, physical condition, and examination results to verify operation’s necessity and to determine best procedure
- Operate on patients to correct deformities, repair injuries, prevent and treat diseases, or improve or restore patients’ functions
- Follow established surgical techniques during the operation
- Prescribe preoperative and postoperative treatments and procedures, such as sedatives, diets, antibiotics, and preparation and treatment of the patient’s operative area
- Examine patient to obtain information on medical condition and surgical risk
- Diagnose bodily disorders and orthopedic conditions and provide treatments, such as medicines and surgeries, in clinics, hospital wards, and operating rooms
- Direct and coordinate activities of nurses, assistants, specialists, residents, and other medical staff
- Provide consultation and surgical assistance to other physicians and surgeons
Other Job Titles
Surgeons are also known by other titles, including:
- Plastic Surgeons
- Cardiothoracic Surgeons
- Orthopedic Surgeons
Education, Training, and Experience
Education and Training
Formal education and training requirements for surgeons include 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to 8 years of internship and residency, depending on the specialty selected. A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 years rather than the customary 8 years. Although a large number perform general surgery, many surgeons choose to specialize in a specific area. One of the most prevalent specialties is orthopedic surgery: the treatment of the musculoskeletal system. Others include neurological surgery (treatment of the brain and nervous system), cardiovascular surgery, otolaryngology (treatment of the ear, nose, and throat), and plastic or reconstructive surgery.
Certification and Licensure
All States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories license physicians. To be licensed, physicians must graduate from an accredited medical school, pass a licensing examination, and complete 1 to 7 years of graduate medical education. Although physicians licensed in one State usually can get a license to practice in another without further examination, some States limit reciprocity. Graduates of foreign medical schools generally can qualify for licensure after passing an examination and completing a U.S. residency.
People who wish to become physicians must have a desire to serve patients, be self-motivated, and be able to survive the pressures and long hours of medical education and practice. Physicians also must have a good bedside manner, emotional stability, and the ability to make decisions in emergencies. Prospective physicians must be willing to study throughout their career to keep up with medical advances.
The median annual salary for a Surgeon is more than $145,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of surgeons are:
- Offices of Physicians - $184,350
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $139,860
- Outpatient Care Centers - $175,170
- Colleges and Universities - $111,560
- Offices of Other Health Practitioners - $171,040
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