Physicians and Surgeons enjoy a high employment growth rate in the US. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this occupation will experience a growth of 7%, in the years from 2018 to 2028. This growth will be a result of a multitude of factors, such as the growing and aging population. As the older population grows, so do the rates of chronic illnesses. Consumers will seek high levels of care, with the use of the latest technologies and diagnostic tests.
Job prospects are expected to be particularly good for those who are willing to practice in low income or rural areas, because these areas usually have difficulty attracting physicians and surgeons.
If you think you can thrive well in this high growth career, and can help people feel better, then the following guide on the steps to become a surgeon would be of use to you. Find out all you need to know about the education, experience and salary information for surgeons.
What Does a Surgeon Do?
Surgeons are highly trained medical professionals who operate on patients to treat injuries such as broken bones, cancerous tumors, deformities and diseases.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following list of tasks performed by Physicians and Surgeons:
Recording a patient’s medical history
Updating charts and patient information
Ordering tests for nurses to perform
Reviewing test results to identify abnormal findings
Recommending and designing a treatment plan
Helping patients by discussing their concerns with the treatment plans
Steps to Become a Surgeon
Becoming a surgeon is a long process that requires a lot of effort and commitment. The following steps outline the process, including details on the education, experience and licensure requirements.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education you need to get into a medical school. Even though a specific major is not required at this stage, it is important that you take up subjects in the natural sciences such as physics and biology.
Step 2: Clear the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
After finishing a bachelor’s degree, students will have to clear the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). This is a standardized test that tests students on areas of biology, organic chemistry, physics and general chemistry. It also tests students on problem solving skills, verbal reasoning and writing skills.
Step 3: Complete a Medical Degree
Once you get accepted into a medical school, your four-year long intensive study plan would begin. The first two years would generally comprise of classroom and lab work, while the last two years would involve working directly with patients in a supervised setting. Coursework would include subjects like pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, biochemistry and pathology.
Step 4: Complete a Residency Program
After completing medical school, students are placed in residency programs. These programs are designed to give aspiring doctors a look into the real world of medicine. Some specialty areas include internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, anesthesiology or emergency medicine.
Step 5: Get a License
All surgeons in the US are required to be licensed to practice. Typical licensure requirements include a degree from an accredited medical college, a residency training program and passing the licensure exam – the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). D.O.s are required the take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).
Step 6: Consider a Certification
Even though a certification is not required for surgeons, it can increase employment opportunities. To get one, candidates are required to complete a related residency and pass a specialty certification exam, administered by a certifying board.
How Much Does a Surgeon Earn?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for surgeons was $255,110 in 2018, which roughly translates to $122.65 per hour. The wage structure varied according to industry and state of employment.
The top paying industries for surgeons were the Offices of Dentists and Management of Companies and Enterprises, paying an annual median wage of over $208,000. This is the highest median wage category listed on the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2018.
Wyoming, Wisconsin, Utah, South Dakota and South Carolina were listed as the highest paying states for this occupation. In 2018, all of these states paid amounts that were classified in the highest wage bracket listed on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.