When we were young, we have dreamt of becoming a doctor, a lawyer, a singer, a dancer, and a millionaire! But did you or anyone you know dreamt of becoming a surgeon? The answer to that may be a silent no, mainly because although we think highly of surgeons, they are not really the ‘doctors’ we wanted to become. We also associate them with surgeries, blood, and gore. We also think that it is so challenging to be in that industry that just by trying to visit the website of a popular hospital makes us want to quit thinking about med school. But now that we can appreciate how important they are, do you really know how difficult it is to become an American surgeon?
Basic requirements to become a surgeon
A Bachelor’s degree
After finishing senior high, an aspiring doctor or surgeon would want to get a 4-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or school. There is no specific course or degree that medical schools would require you to get, but if you want to have an edge and make it a bit easier to understand med school, apply for science courses like human biology (biological studies), human genetics, physics, kinesiology, health sciences, chemistry, or medical technology. While getting your degree, make sure that you are also satisfying the pre-med course requirements and getting a hold of the realistic healthcare experience to enhance your medical school application. You will also need to get and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) during your senior year.
Enrolling in Medical School
Aspiring surgeons enroll in a medical school to complete a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. The first two years of a soon-to-be doctor’s medical school journey are devoted to theoretical and laboratory work to prepare and harness their knowledge and critical thinking for assessing, diagnosing, and treating diseases. During their second year of attending med school, the students will take the first part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners. The last two years are dedicated to their clinical experience, obtaining patient care practice by carrying out clinical duty shifts and rotation under the supervision of qualified doctors and consultants.
For other courses, this part is what they call an internship. But as a doctor, after completing medical school, you will then be required to enroll in a surgical residency program if you really want to be a surgeon. This is where you will be exposed to different specializations of surgery, and have the liberty to choose where to specialize in, such as orthopedic, neurological, cardiovascular, thoracic, obstetrical, pediatric, or plastic (reconstructive or cosmetic). Residents work within their hospital or surgical center to treat patients with guidance from experienced professional surgeons. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), general surgery residencies usually last around five years, but sub-specialties in surgery will need an additional one to three years experience.
Getting your license and board certification
The US strictly require all practicing surgeons to be licensed. Though the specific requirements vary from state to state, most will have a directive that American surgeons have graduated from medical school, completed a residency program, and passed the medical board examination.