June 6, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Surgeons are highly skilled medical doctors who perform operations as the primary method of treatment. Within the field, surgeons can specialise even further into several specialty areas such as orthopaedic, cardiovascular, neurological and ophthalmic among others. Because this is a highly specialized form of medicine, the education and training criteria for surgeons are very rigorous, with some sub-specialties taking up to 16 years to complete.
Here’s a sneak peek into the different areas you can choose to specialise in as a surgeon:
A general surgeon is a specialist who has the knowledge and technical skills to diagnose, treat and manage a broad spectrum of surgical conditions affecting almost any area of the body, including the head and neck, extremities, skin and soft tissues, abdomen and breast as well as the vascular, gastrointestinal and endocrine systems. As a general surgeon, you would be responsible for establishing the diagnosis and providing the preoperative, operative and postoperative care to your patients. Depending on your place of work, you may also be responsible for the comprehensive management of critically ill patients and trauma victims.
Paediatric surgeons undergo special training to operate on children from the newborn through the teenage years. They are responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of the preoperative, operative, and postoperative care of their paediatric patients. To qualify as a paediatric surgeon you will have to be first board certified in general surgery and then complete two years of additional training before you are eligible to be certified in paediatric surgery. As a result of this additional training, paediatric surgeons have expertise in the following areas of responsibility:
– Prenatal surgery, which involves the detection of abnormalities and subsequent surgical corrections during the foetal stage of development
– Neonatal surgery, which includes specialised knowledge in the surgical treatment of congenital anomalies such as cleft palate
– Paediatric surgical oncology, which is the knowledge of the diagnosis and surgical care of children with tumours and cancerous growths
– Trauma, which includes the surgical care and prevention of traumatic injuries
– Surgical problems involving the gastrointestinal tract, such as appendicitis, inflammatory bowel disease or gastroesophageal reflux
Paediatric surgeons are also trained to care for certain surgical problems of the skin and soft tissues, neck, endocrine and vascular systems in children.
A vascular surgeon cares for patients with conditions that affect the arteries, veins and lymphatic systems exclusive of circulation within the heart and the brain. Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries is a common cause of vascular disease. Specialists in this field perform open operations, non-invasive vascular testing and endovascular catheter-based procedures. Common problems that vascular surgeons treat include management of aneurysms, vascular trauma, stroke prevention by managing arterial blockages, varicose veins and revascularisation of upper and lower limbs for better circulation. To qualify as a vascular surgeon, you will first need to be board certified in general surgery and then complete additional training and testing in vascular surgery.