Shadowing a Doctor

May 23, 2014

Exploring The Different Subspecialties Within Surgery: Part One 

Students in scrubs at the hospital group Surgery has a complex training pathway as there are significant differences between the diverse subspecialties that lie within the broader surgical group. Surgery is comprised of nine main specialties. These nine specialties have multiple sub-specialisation options embedded within each of them. The later phases of training can be particularly demanding and you will have to be incredibly determined and hard working to make it through.

To become a surgeon, you will first need to undergo training to obtain a medical degree qualifying you as a M.D. or Medical Doctor. After you’ve obtained this degree, you will have to apply for admission to the surgical programme of your preferred medical school. The admission criteria for a trainee as a general surgeon is extremely strict and competition can be fierce. It is a good idea to gain some practical experience as a general practitioner for at least a couple of years before you consider sending in your application for specialising in surgery.

Surgeons across most of the specialties work in multi-disciplinary teams comprising of anaesthetists, nurses, radiologists and other specialists depending on the type of procedure. They usually work within hospital settings where, besides performing operations, they also undertake ward rounds, administrative duties, outpatient clinics and teaching.

Personality Traits Essential For All Surgeons

Surgery can be a satisfying but also a very demanding and challenging career choice. Irrespective of which specialty you choose, there are certain attributes that you absolutely must have if you are contemplating a career as a surgeon:

– A genuine desire to become a surgeon. This is crucial. Do not even think of pursuing this specialty if you have the slightest doubt about your decision. If you are unsure about surgery as your career choice, spend some time at a medical placement that focuses on surgery so you can make an informed decision.

– Perseverance is another important attribute. Becoming a surgeon requires formal studies of ten years or even longer depending on your subspecialty. You can only make it if you have the determination and perseverance to forge ahead no matter what.

– The ability to work hard and continuously for several hours at a stretch.

– The ability to stay focused for extended periods of time.

– The ability to make split second decisions and to work under pressure.

– The ability to handle any surgical crises.

– Physical dexterity and exceptional fine motor skills.

– Respect for the human body and for human life.

– Like working with your hands.

– Like working as a team.

– Thorough knowledge of anatomy.

Training Pathway

Training for most surgical specialties involves two years of Core Surgical Training, which may be linked to a specific specialty or it could comprise a generic surgical training programme to equip you with the required competencies that will allow you to progress onto Specialty Training.

Specialty Training lasts approximately six years after which only those who are successful are awarded a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT).

Click here to read part two of Exploring The Different Subspecialties Within Surgery