Surgeon

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1 Surgeon At a Glance Surgeons are medical doctors who perform surgeries on any part of the human body to correct problems caused by injury or disease. Michigan Career Pathways Health Sciences Range: 100K - 500K Level of Education Core Tasks 4-Year College or University Specialize in a particular kind of surgery Analyze patients medical histories Order and interpret tests, such as x-rays Plan and perform surgery Arrange for post-operative care for patients and check on their progress Attributes & Abilities Workplace Enjoy helping people Hard-working Work well with your hands Hand-eye coordination Detail-oriented Work for hospitals and clinics, or are self-employed Spend time in offices, hospital rooms, and operating rooms Stand for long periods of time during operations Work long hours, and may be on call when not working Weekend work is common Job Description Surgeons are doctors with highly specialized training. They perform all types of surgical procedures to correct deformities and problems caused by injury or disease. For example, an orthopedic surgeon might operate to repair torn knee cartilage, while a cardiovascular surgeon might do open-heart surgery to save a heart attack victim. There are many different kinds of surgery. Neurosurgery involves operating on the brain, nerves, or spinal cord, possibly to remove a brain tumor or to repair damage after an accident. Pediatric surgery is performed on children and adolescents. 1 of 7 1/13/15, 8:34 PM

2 Laser eye surgery is performed to reduce vision impairments caused by problems such as cataracts. Plastic surgeons improve people s appearance, or the function of certain body parts. This type of surgery may be performed to correct a problem caused by a congenital condition or an accident, or purely for aesthetic reasons. The surgeon s first job when meeting patients is to examine them and determine whether or not they need surgery and what procedure should be performed. They collect and analyze patients medical histories to get information about their allergies to medications, general physical health, and any hereditary conditions. They also order and interpret diagnostic tests, such as x-rays. If an operation is required, surgeons plan the best way to perform the surgery. Sometimes, they use computers to help them plan complex surgeries. Before spinal surgery takes place, for instance, the surgeon may download images of the patient s spine on a special computer that creates a 3D image of the spine. By exploring the image on screen the surgeon can pre-plan the surgery and avoid complications during the actual procedure. In the operating room, surgeons check to make sure that the required instruments are sterile and everything is in place. They consult with anesthesiologists and direct the activities of nurses, residents, and other members of the surgical team during the procedure. Depending on the type of surgery being performed, a large part of a surgeon s job may involve working with technology. For example, surgeons who perform laparoscopic surgery don t have to make long incisions on a patient s body. Instead, they insert a tiny camera and delicate surgical instruments into the patient through a tiny incision. The camera allows them to perform the operation by viewing the inside of the body on a monitor. After surgery, surgeons ensure their patients are well-cared for, checking on their progress and prescribing post-operative treatments and medications to help them recover quickly and comfortably. Working Conditions Surgeons work in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. Patients are often referred to them from family physicians or other medical centers. Surgeons typically spend part of their day in the office doing consultations, part of it seeing patients in the hospital, and part of it in the operating room. The procedures they perform can be relatively straightforward, such as the removal of tonsils, or they can be complex and involve higher risk for example, open-heart or brain surgery. If they are performing complex surgeries, surgeons may have to spend as many as 8 hours in an operating room. Most of this time is spent standing. In the operating room, surgeons work as part of a team which includes nurses and an anesthesiologist. People in this profession work long hours: sometimes more than 12 hours a day, or upwards of 60 hours a week. Weekend work is quite common, especially for a surgeon who is on call. Surgeons are not often required to travel as part of their job, although they may occasionally travel to attend conferences. Surgeons employed by hospitals and clinics are either paid set yearly salaries or they are paid by contract, which means that they are employed for a fixed amount of time for example, 6 months and for a fixed amount of money. for self-employed surgeons depend largely on the number of patients they see; they can raise their income by increasing the number of hours they work. It s important to note, however, that surgeons who run their own practices normally have to pay costly malpractice insurance fees and other overhead expenses themselves. In general, annual income for surgeons can range from less than $100,000 to $500,000 a year or more. Factors that affect surgeons earnings include their level of experience, their location, and the complexity of the surgical procedures they perform. Highly trained specialists tend to have the highest earnings. 2 of 7 1/13/15, 8:34 PM

3 For instance, according to a recent survey by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) the median compensation for general surgeons is about $370,000 a year. Cardiac and thoracic surgeons have median earnings of around $544,000 a year. Surgeons who are still training as residents earn the lowest salaries. Residents usually make somewhere between $42,000 and $75,000 a year, though some residency programs pay more. Most salaried surgeons receive benefits such as pension plans, vacation and sick days, and health and life insurance. Self-employed surgeons have to provide their own benefits. Michigan Wages Occupation: Surgeons Level of Experience Hourly Annual Entry Wage $ $187,200+ Median Wage $ $187,200+ Experienced Wage $ $187,200+ Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Michigan Outlook Occupation: Surgeons Employment Change Number 80 Percentage 13 Annual Average Openings Total Growth Replacement Source: Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, Labor Market Information 3 of 7 1/13/15, 8:34 PM

4 Education Like other doctors, surgeons must complete a Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) from an approved medical school. Applicants to medical school must first complete a 4-year bachelor s degree. Although undergraduate degrees can be in any subject, most applicants take a large number of courses in the basic sciences biology, chemistry, and physics. The admission process is highly competitive, so some students also earn a master s degree before applying to medical school. Applicants usually need to write the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) as well. Most schools consider applicants scores on this test in addition to their college grades when making their decision. Many schools also consider extracurricular activities, leadership qualities, and personal character. Medical school takes 4 years to complete. Once the MD is obtained, graduates complete a surgery residency, which takes a minimum of 5 years. Residencies are periods of practical, on-the-job training that take place in hospitals or other medical settings. Surgical residents are trained in general surgical procedures related to many parts of human anatomy, as well as in a chosen specialty. Graduates who wish to specialize in more complex areas of a particular type of surgery, such as pediatric cardiac surgery, can enter into a fellowship program after residency. Surgeons who have completed their residency period can begin the process of becoming certified by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS). This typically involves passing written and oral exams. In addition, all doctors must obtain a license to practice in the state where they ll be working. Related College Programs Medicine Pre-Medicine/Pre-Medical Studies /Biological Sciences, General Biochemistry Chemistry, General Other Suggested Qualifications If you are considering a career as a surgeon, you must be an excellent student. You should be interested in working with and helping people, and willing to work long hours. It is important to have excellent manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. You should also have an eye for detail, good communication skills, and the ability to work well under pressure. Suggested High School Subjects Grade 9 Grade 10 Mathematics Physical Sciences Social Studies - Geography Health & Physical Education Mathematics Physical Sciences Social Studies - History Grade 11 Grade 12 Mathematics Probability & Statistics Algebra Calculus Anatomy & Physiology 4 of 7 1/13/15, 8:34 PM

5 Grade 11 Grade 12 Chemistry Physics Economics Law & Government Chemistry Physics Social Studies Important Check with your advisor to make sure that your course selections satisfy your graduation requirements. Courses available may vary from school to school. Sample Career Path People take different pathways through their careers, but no one starts at the top. This is an example of how the earnings, education and experience requirements, and responsibilities might progress for someone in this occupation. Level 1 Sample Title Resident $42,000 to $75,000 a year Requirements Bachelor s degree Graduate degree in medicine Accepted into a surgery residency program Responsibilities Doing supervised work in the hospital: working as a surgical assistant; on call for emergencies; training in a field of specialization. Level 2 Sample Title Staff Surgeon $150,000 to $450,000 a year Requirements Completion of residency Licensed by your state Possibly certified Responsibilities Diagnosing and treating patients; doing consultations and operations. Level 3 Sample Title Department Head 5 of 7 1/13/15, 8:34 PM

6 Level 3 $350,000 to $500,000 a year, or more Requirements At least 10 years of experience as a surgeon Responsibilities Diagnosing and treating patients; doing administrative work, such as budgets. Related Careers Here are some other occupations that you might be interested in. Click on an occupation name to learn more. Allergist Anesthesiologist Cardiologist Chiropractor Coroner Dentist Dermatologist Doctor Epidemiologist Family Physician Naturopath Nurse Anesthetist Nurse Practitioner Obstetrician-Gynecologist Oncologist Ophthalmologist Orthopedic Surgeon Osteopathic Physician Pathologist Pediatrician Perfusionist Physician Assistant Plastic Surgeon Podiatrist Prosthetist / Orthotist Radiologist Surgical Technologist Veterinarian Related Military Careers Physician / Surgeon National Employment by Industry Industry % Employed Health Care and Social Assistance 77 Self-Employed 12 Source: O*Net Online, Browse by Industry, US Department of Labor 6 of 7 1/13/15, 8:34 PM

7 Other Resources American College of Surgeons (ACS) So, You Want to be a Surgeon A scientific and educational membership association for surgeons of all types. Here you can find excellent information for aspiring surgeons. Click here to learn about different types of surgical specialties: New York Times A Surgeon Opens Up, and Not With a Scalpel An interesting interview with a former surgeon that offers an inside look at the career. American Medical Association (AMA) AMA represents physicians from across the country. Scroll over Education and click on Becoming A Physician to get information about requirements, specialties, and more. Student Doctor Network (SDN) This network of students and health professionals aims to help health students successfully pursue a career in this industry. In the Articles & Interviews section, you can find lots of helpful information. Click here to read an interview with a surgeon: National Premed Consulting The Top Five Qualities of Successful Doctors Find out which qualities you will need to be successful in this field. HowStuffWorks How Becoming a Doctor Works This in-depth guide from HowStuffWorks offers great information about becoming a doctor. Association of American Medical Colleges Medical College Admission Test The official website of the MCAT exam, which is mandatory to apply to medical schools. Click on About The MCAT Exam to learn more about the examination process. Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Students This is a non-profit association of medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic societies. Here you can find helpful student information and resources. Occupational Outlook Handbook Physicians and Surgeons Career information from the US Department of Labor. 7 of 7 1/13/15, 8:34 PM

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