Medical specialty career field: Surgery

Name and Definition of the Medical Specialty

One medical specialty career field that is gaining increasing significance is the field of surgery. Healthcare professionals who major in the field of surgery are called surgeons. A surgeon is a healthcare practitioner performing invasive medical procedures on patients to correct deformities such as cleft palates, illnesses such as cancerous tumors, and injuries such as broken bones (BLS, 2017). As qualified medical professionals, surgeons may specialize in various fields, including reconstructive surgery, plastic surgery, and oral surgery, among others. They can work in clinics or hospitals or can open their own facilities. According to BLS (2017), surgeons who work outside the cosmetic industry usually gain clients through physician referrals.

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Purpose of the Position

There is currently a scarcity of general surgeons all across the nation. The ongoing trend towards increased utilization of healthcare services coupled with a growing elderly population has led to higher demand for the services of surgeons. As a result, the number of general surgeons per every 100,000 individuals in the U.S. has dropped by 26 percent from the early 1980s to 2005 (Decker et al., 2013). This collective growth in the demand for surgical services is expected to exceed 25 percent by 2025. The government recognizes the shortage of surgeons, and to correct the situation, the 2010 Affordable Care Act required that 75 percent of new residency chances be either in general surgery or primary care (Decker et al., 2013). This is evident because surgeons play a more significant role, especially in the current age of increased chronic conditions that often call for surgical operations.

Educational Preparation for the Field of Surgery

Of all the medical specialties, the field of surgery generally demands the most intensive preparation. Before surgeons are authorized to operate on patients, they have to meet several challenging educational requirements. These include four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school that leads to acquiring a Doctor of Medicine degree, and three years of surgical residency at a healthcare facility (BLS, 2017). During the course of medical school, learners gain greater mastery of the subjects undertaken at the undergraduate level. These comprise microbiology, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, psychology, pathology, medical law, and ethics (Wulffson, 2013). The surgery programs undertaken in medical school also involve students in clinical rotations where they are exposed to the fundamentals of patient care across a wide continuum. After graduating from medical school, aspiring surgeons must earn the Doctor of Medicine qualification and become licensed before joining a residency program (BLS, 2017). Residency programs function as salaried training, whereby newly graduated surgeons work under the supervision of more experienced surgeons.

The Job Duties for Surgeons

According to BLS (2017), the job growth for surgeons is projected to rise by 13 percent between 2016 and 2026. A qualified surgeon can join a private practice. During the patient visit, the surgeon performs a physical examination, takes a medical history, and guides them on any necessary laboratory tests (Wulffson, 2013). If the surgery is finally considered the best possible solution to the patient’s condition, the surgeon undertakes the operation and provides postoperative care.

The Pros and Cons of Working as a Surgeon

Being a surgeon is an attractive option for many healthcare practitioners. The benefits range from money to meaning and excitement. In particular, the field of surgery is well paying, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) highlights that the wage for a surgeon is equal to or higher than $208,000 annually or $100 per hour. Besides, surgeons draw meaning from their careers as they are directly responsible for the care of their patients. Even though all healthcare practitioners are trained to provide the best care, it is even more satisfying to care for patients in critical moments and achieve the desired outcomes (Uttinger, 2018). In addition, surgeons are more unlikely to be bored as compared to the average doctor. The rationale is that every operation is a race that has to be executed effectively; surgeons are expected to make life or death decisions in a matter of seconds.

Conversely, the field of surgery has its fair share of disadvantages that might limit the motivation for becoming a surgeon. First, the many years of school, coupled with a demanding curriculum, might be challenging, especially for people who prefer to start earning early. Besides, the field of surgery involves a lot of guilt. Even surgeons take credit for saving lives; they also feel responsible when patients die in their hands. Surgeons are also often stressed. The consistent calls for duty deny one of the significant moments in personal life and make one miss social events. As Uttinger (2018) elucidates, an average surgeon spends 50-60 hours per week on work, which often causes stress and burnout.



Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017). Occupational outlook handbook: Physicians and surgeons.

Decker, M. R., Bronson, N. W., Greenberg, C. C., Dolan, J. P., Kent, K. C., & Hunter, J. G. (2013). The general surgery job market: analysis of current demand for general surgeons and their specialized skills. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 217(6), 1133-1139.

Uttinger, D. (2018). Is being a surgeon worth it?

Wulffson, R. F. (2013). Surgery. Salem Press encyclopedia of science. Salem Press.