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How long on average, does it take for a person to become a general surgeon after high school?

Taking into account that the person has taken nursing and medical assistant classes before graduating.

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David’s Answer

Cristian, it's great you're already taking more advanced courses. That shows many things about you, including that you are focused, committed and truly serious about a career in medicine. I always encourage students who think they want to be a doctor to just get in there, volunteer or work in as many medical areas as they can find and see if they really enjoy working with sick people, studying everyday, and the hard work that comes from being a medical professional - it's not for everyone.

So, the good news is your classes on nursing and medical assisting are an excellent first step. Do you find them really interesting? Do you want to do extra reading outside of your classwork, just to learn all you can about certain areas? Do you look forward to going to class? I imagine your answer to all these questions is Yes.

The maybe not so good news is, while those classes are a great first start, you will still need to do well in high school, attend a 4 year university, go to medical school for 4 years, then get into a surgical training program. General surgeons typically train for another 4 or 5 years AFTER medical school, so it's a long road before you can practice on your own. When I teach local high school students, my standard answer to them is when you graduate from high school, you're half way down the road to being a specialist. That's 12 years behind you, 12 years in front of you (4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, at least 4 years of residency). If knowing that excites you, you're on the right road. If not, there are many other options you can explore.

As a doctor for over 40 years, I can promise you it's a special privilege with great responsibility, but worth every second. Good luck!
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! Cristian
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Waseem’s Answer

Around 6 to 8 years
Thank you comment icon Thank you for answering! Cristian
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Cristian,

Becoming a general surgeon is a journey that, on average, spans 13 to 15 years following high school. This duration includes the time you invest in nursing and medical assistant courses prior to high school graduation.

Here's a detailed, step-by-step guide to help you navigate the path to becoming a general surgeon:

1. Start with an Undergraduate Education: You'll need a pre-medical degree, such as a Bachelor of Science, which typically takes 4 years. This curriculum includes biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Any nursing and medical assistant courses you've taken in high school will serve as a solid foundation for these subjects.

2. Prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT): This standardized test is a prerequisite for medical school admission. Students usually take the MCAT in their junior or senior year of undergraduate studies.

3. Attend Medical School: A standard medical school program lasts 4 years, culminating in a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. The program is split into two parts: the first half focuses on classroom and laboratory instruction, while the latter half provides supervised clinical training across various medical specialties.

4. Complete a Residency: Post-medical school, you'll need to undertake a surgical residency program, typically lasting 5 years. This period offers comprehensive training in diverse surgical procedures and techniques, along with patient care and management.

5. Obtain Certification: After your residency, you'll need to earn certification from the American Board of Surgery (ABS). This involves passing both written and oral exams administered by the ABS.

In essence, the journey to becoming a general surgeon post-high school averages between 13 to 15 years, inclusive of time spent on nursing and medical assistant classes prior to high school graduation. This journey comprises 4 years of undergraduate education, 4 years in medical school, and a 5-year residency. Lastly, ABS certification is mandatory to practice as a general surgeon in the United States.

May God bless you on your journey!
James Constantine.
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