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How much schooling does a surgeon need?

How many years of college

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Subject: Career question for you


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Michael’s Answer

Hi Londyn:

Physicians and Surgeons are similar in their responsibilities and duties in taking care of patients and in dealing with hospital staff and medical personnel. The main difference between the two professionals is that Surgeons operate on patients whereas Physicians do not. Physicians diagnose patients and treat their medical conditions. Operations performed by Surgeons can be treating injuries like broken bones, removal of diseases like tumors and cancers, deformities, etc.

While in high school, one will need to focus on science and math classes to prepare to be a Surgeon. Chemistry and biology will be the core science courses. For math, algebra, calculus and statistics will be needed. Both concentrations will enable you to focus and refine your analytical skills for research; complex problem solving; investigative and innovative critical thinking; attention to detail; etc.

Other skills that will need to be built upon center around team building, team work and communication. In any work culture, collaboration among team members, staff and partner departments occur on a daily basis. As a Surgeon, communication is essential and critical when dealing with hospital staff and patients. A college course in Public Speaking, Communication and English will help with one's communication and writing skills.

To become a Surgeon, a Bachelor Degree in Biology, pre-med or another science related field has to be earned at a college or university. Afterwards, a doctorate degree from an accredited medical school has to be obtained. The next phase will be training through a medical residency as well as medical certification and licensing.

For education and training, it will take up to 14 years to become a Surgeon. The Bachelor Degree will be between 4-5 years. Medical school will be another 4-5 years. Medical residency, medical certification and licensing can take up to 3-4 years.

Being a Surgeon can be a demanding and rewarding profession, especially depending if there is a specialized field or concentration. Remember, as a Surgeon, you are the professional who saves lives. Your patients are impacted by you.

While in college, here are some undergraduate degrees to major in order to become a Surgeon:

- Organic Chemistry
- Biochemistry
- Biology
- Chemistry

It will be best to seek advice from your high school guidance counselor as well as teachers to help you focus your interests for a specific major in college.

According to U.S. News & World Report, here is an overview of pursuing medical school:

According to U.S. News & World Report, here are the top colleges and universities to consider for Medical School:

- Harvard University
- John Hopkins University
- University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)
- Columbia University
- Duke University
- Stanford University
- University of California (San Francisco)
- Vanderbilt University
- Washington University (St. Louis)
- Cornell University (Weill)
- New York University (Grossman)
- Yale University

When reviewing colleges and universities, it is best to check the following:

- In-State vs Out of State Tuition
- Internships
- Scholarships
- Career Placement upon graduation
- Course work and offered classes
- Post-Graduate Degrees - Master and Doctoral

There are scholarships based on need, academic performance, school activities, sports involvement and community service. So, it will be to your advantage to seek out these types of scholarships. All of the academic staff at your high school that you interact with can write letters of recommendations for you based on what was just stated above. These recommendations can greatly help when filling out college and scholarship applications.

Scholarship applications can start to be submitted during your Junior year and will continue throughout your Senior year in high school. It is best to ask your Academic Advisor/School Counselor on the timeline process as well. Scholarship applications will have specific deadlines and requirements to meet in order to be submitted for review and consideration.

You may want to start to compile your resume/portfolio since a majority of scholarship applications will require academic grade point average (GPA), academic accomplishments, school activities (clubs, sports, etc.), community involvement (volunteer, church, etc.), academic and personal recommendations, etc. There may be essay requirements on why you are a qualified candidate to receive the scholarship, what your future goals are academically and professionally and other questions centering around who you are, your beliefs, etc.

Here are a couple of links for College Scholarships:

Also, it will be best to check with the colleges and universities that you will be applying to. You can check with the School/Department of your desired major, the Campus Career Center and the Register's Office for additional information for college scholarships and grants and specific requirements for qualifications.

Best wishes for your education and career path as a Surgeon!
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Madison’s Answer

You need undergrad bachelors degree, 4 years of medical school, then residency which could be general surgery, OBGYN, ortho, ENT, urology, vascular surgery, as well as other things like pediatrics followed by surgical fellowship.
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Rian’s Answer

Hi Londyn,
Everyone's path in medicine differs. Some people choose to apply to medical school right out of undergraduate, while others choose to wait. The path to becoming a surgeon generally involved 4 years undergraduate, 4 years of medical school, and anywhere from 5-8 years of residency. Throughout this time, some people may choose to finish undergraduate in 3 years, some may choose to take a research year during medical school while others may choose to pursue extra fellowships during residency. Everyone's path is different so if being a surgeon is something you'd like to do, don't let others discourage you.

Best of luck to you!
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Aisha’s Answer

Dear Londyn,

To become a physician or a surgeon, one generally needs to complete a bachelor's degree first. Following this, they must pursue a medical degree, which usually takes about four more years. The journey doesn't end there though. Depending on the specific field they choose to specialize in, they are required to spend another three to nine years participating in internship and residency programs. If they decide to further specialize in a particular area, they must undergo additional training in a fellowship program, which can last from one to three years.

Best Regards