Dreaming of a career as a surgeon? Do you feel inextricably drawn to the world of scalpels, procedures, and scrubs? Whatever the case, surgery remains one of the top medical specialty choices for those who have what it takes. Even as pay for direct care medical workers continues to fall in the US, the pay of those who perform operations has continued to remain relatively high. See this article for more on how much surgeons make.
So, how long does it take to become a surgeon? There is not one single time figure that can be given. As with most medical fields, becoming a surgery takes a fairly large time commitment. The only way to figure out how long it will take for you to become a surgeon is to break down the steps and figure out the length of which specific path you will follow. The amount of time required for education will also vary depending on what specialty you are pursuing a career in.
First things first: your undergraduate degree. One of the first requirements for entry to medical school is an undergraduate degree. This will generally take four years. If you take AP courses in high school and load yourself up, you may be able to finish in three. Of course, this may not be advisable if you are following a pre-med program due to the difficulty of some of your courses.
- Step one – Undergraduate degree. Time – Four years
Medical school. Following the completion of your four-year degree, you will begin medical school. There isn’t too much to say about it. Medical school will take four years regardless of what field you wish to enter. For those who have difficulty keeping up with the rapid pace, it may take anywhere from 5-6 years, but 4 is the standard amount of time.
- Step two – Medical school. Time – four years
Residency. This is where your choice of path matters. The typical surgery residency will be anywhere from 5-7 years. If choose to pursue a residency in general surgery, for example, you can expect to spend 5 years in residency. If you wish to go into something more specialized, such as plastic surgery or neurosurgery, you will spend a longer length of time in residency, generally around 6-7 years.
- Step three: Residency. Time – 5-7 years.
Post-residency training (optional depending on specialty). Following your residency, you will be able to practice as a surgeon. You are, in every sense of the word, a surgeon. If you want to move into a very specialized field, though, you will more than likely have to pursue training after the completion of a residency program, generally in the form of a fellowship. Fellowships may last anywhere from six months to two years, depending on the area.
And there you have it. From beginning to start, become a surgeon will take at least thirteen years of post-secondary education for most people. If you feel the urge to, you may also choose to extend your education by receiving post-residency training and researching.
- Total time to become a surgeon: 13-18 years.