What is It Like Being a General Surgeon?

General Surgery, under the mask. What truly is general surgery? Life saving operations, days on days with no sleep, and years of schooling, general surgeons have one of the toughest jobs out there. 

What is it like being a general surgeon? General surgeons operate on many types of surgeries from an appendectomy to wound repair and many in between. The most common operations include gallbladder removal, hernia repair, and colon and rectal surgery. There are many pros and cons to becoming a surgeon as there is to any job, some pros are the good pay, the experience of saving a life and having a job you enjoy, however the cons include expensive and long schooling and long shifts, resulting in missing out on life outside work. Shifts can be long but no shift is ever the same, no true schedule to follow, one day surgeons could work 8-5 other days they could have a 48 hour shift not including emergency calls. The average salary for a general surgeon is about 362k dollars a year, this can vary depending on the place they work for and how many hours they work. Before they can even become a surgeon they have to go through 4 years of med school and 3 years of residency. 

When surgeons are on call what do they do? Surgeons don’t have a true schedule to stick to or abide by, one day surgeons could be working 8-5 others days they could have a 48 hour shift not including emergency calls, no day is the same. However there is a weekly agenda that tells surgeons  what is scheduled for that week and what needs to be done each day. Monday they could start with ward rounds which are complex clinical activities that form the daily assessments and management of surgical impatiens. Tuesdays are usually reserved as full surgery days, Wednesday mornings could be for surgery and the afternoon for meetings, and Thursdays are the same as wednesdays. Fridays they could consult with the patients, and on the weekend if they’re off call they hand their responsibilities to a trusted colleague, if they’re on call they do their work and a colleagues if needed. Surgeons could miss family events and off time whether they’re on or off call due to emergency cases where they need them to come in due to the severity of the operation or case.

Before people can even apply for a position as a resident tons of schooling is needed. Med school is four years of education all about medicine and health, you can major in medicine and health in college to prepare for med school. For instate public med school it averages a cost of 35k dollars and for out of state public med school it averages 60k dollars and same for private instate or out of state med school. There are two major test that are taken in med school that determine whether they can move on to residency or not, these tests are the CASPer test which is a situational judgement test, testing their capability to handle pressure in tough situations while also testing their education of medicine. The second major test is the MCAT which is a multiple choice test in which it assesses they’re critical thinking and the ability to solve problems, these questions fall into three different categories, physical and biological science, along with verbal reasoning. In order to prepare for these tests there are options to take extra science and math courses some of the best math and science courses in college include: physics 16, math 55a HAH, economics 1126, and philosophy 129. The dedication required for becoming a surgeon happened way before med school, “Most med schools like it when you aren’t too involved with extra curriculars such as sports and clubs.” says Dorenkamp from MSU medical staff.

Years of expensive schooling, the variety of being a general surgeon and the amount of dedication it takes, could be a big responsibility, taking tons of dedication and time.