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What's Surgery Like as a Career?

Surgery is challenging, exciting and rewarding, making it one of the most sought after careers in medicine.

Many surgeons say they enjoy the intellectual challenges of their job combined with its positive, active approach to treating disease. Performing an operation and seeing a patient's life improved almost immediately is incredibly satisfying.

Surgery combines elements of many different medical skills with unique skills and know-how. If you enjoy work that is literally hands-on, then surgery could be the career for you. 

Find out more about the skills and qualities of a surgeon

Training to become a surgeon

Surgery is a popular career, and you will need to be motivated and committed to succeed.

Training places are allocated to those who have undertaken a variety of activities demonstrating both their skills in a range of clinical and non-clinical areas and their commitment.

The career route to becoming a surgeon involves study at university followed by a number of years training on-the-job while you learn and perfect your skills.

A day in the life of a surgeon

A surgeon’s job is not confined to the operating theatre. They divide their time between several activities including:

  • Ward rounds: daily visits to check on the state and progress of each of the patients in their care, liaising with nursing staff and junior doctors.
  • Operating: working on pre-booked elective operations and/or emergency cases as part of a team which will include other surgeons, anaesthetists, technicians, nurses, administrators all working together to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.
  • Out-patient clinics: meeting the patient (and possibly their family) before the operation to decide the best course of action for their condition; explain procedures and risks; take tests; arrange X-rays; and then meeting them again after the operation to monitor their recovery.
  • Administration: as with every job, there’s paperwork to be done. 

Surgeons normally meet patients following a referral from their GP and may continue seeing them for pre-operative meetings and post-operative follow-up appointments. All surgeons patients are referred to them by General Practitioners. View the patient's journey



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