General Surgeons  

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surgeon standing in a surgical operating room Surgeons diagnose and provide preoperative, operative, and postoperative surgical care to patients.  They may operate on trauma care victims in an emergency room, or perform less urgent types of surgeries.  General surgery can be divided into general vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, hand surgery, and surgery critical care.  Non-general specializations include neurosurgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, orthopedic surgery, and thoracic surgery.

Surgical candidates should prepare for medical school by enrolling in a premed university program that provides classes in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and the humanities.  Students must then pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and apply to medical schools for the MD degree.  The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education stipulates that physicians desiring to pursue general surgery must complete a five year residency assisting and then performing basic surgery under supervision.  An additional one to three years of training is required for any subspecialties.

Certification through the American Board of Surgery is voluntary but highly recommended and can be obtained in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgery critical care, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine.  Certification in a number of specialties can be obtained through the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Medical Association (AMA).

In addition to medical school and residency requirements, surgeons must have good hand-eye coordination, be able to think quickly and act decisively in high pressure situations, enjoy helping people, and have good communication skills.  Surgeons may advance to become fellows in a professional specialty or serve on the board of a medical association.  There will always continue to be a need for surgeons, so career prospects are good for those willing to meet the rigorous requirements.

General Surgeons in each State and the District of Columbia

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About Surgeons' Job Responsibilities, Educational Requirements, and Working Conditions