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What college majors and minors should I take in college if I want to become a General Surgeon? What career path do I take to become one?

For example, say I study anatomy in college, would that benefit me? What other courses should I take? What career path would lead me to become a general surgeon? For example, becoming a nurse or a medical assistant before I do.

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Kasey’s Answer

Everything science! From biology, chemistry, and anatomy! All of these courses will help you achieve what you need to work in the medical field! Most colleges will help you pick the classes needed to help you accomplish future goals.

I wish you the best!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to help. Cristian
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Paul’s Answer

I am a retired orthopaedic surgeon, so I can tell you what worked well for me and my colleagues. Most of us took basic science courses in college in chemistry, biology and physics. Some advanced math (calculus) can also be helpful but isn't required. Don't look for specialized science courses like anatomy unless you know that you want to be a research scientist in addition to a practicing doctor. I would suggest that your college major might well be in one of the liberal arts instead of in science to give you the broadest possible general education. This will help you relate better to the wide variety of people you will meet while in practice as a doctor. Education, as pointed out by Megan above, will be 4 years of college and 4 years of medical school. Med school is followed by a residency to learn the specialty you choose. Most residencies are 4 years of training, but many are followed by a fellowship which can add up to 4 years of further sub-specialized training. Learning to practice medicine is hard work, takes a long time, and is expensive. On the other hand, I know of no work which is more satisfying on a personal basis. You help people, and usually get to see the results of you work in short order. You may have to borrow money to pay for your education, but you can expect to make all of this back and make a good living (and retirement) as well.

Paul S. Treuhaft, MD, MA
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice. Cristian
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Megan’s Answer

To embark on the path to becoming a surgeon, start by obtaining an undergraduate degree in Biology, Chemistry, or Pre-med. Following this, your next step is to apply to medical school. Once you've successfully completed medical school, strive to secure a spot in a surgery residency program. Be aware, these programs are highly competitive, so acceptance isn't guaranteed. The duration of your residency will range from 5-8 years, depending on the surgical specialty you choose. After completing your residency, you'll be ready to practice independently as a surgeon. Keep in mind, pursuing roles like a medical assistant or nurse may not align with your timeline if your ultimate goal is to be a surgeon. Your schooling will demand most of your time, leaving little room for other commitments.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Megan! Cristian
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