• Question: What qualifications do you need to be a surgeon?

    Asked by mikeymoozle on 21 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 21 Jun 2019:


      Firstly you would need to go to medical school and get a medical degree. During medical school you would do rotations in lots of different branches of medicine including general medicine, surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health, general practice etc. After medical school, the first two years of being a junior doctor are called foundation programmes. During this 2 years, doctors do between 4 and 8 placements in different fields of medicine – for example I did intensive care, colorectal surgery, respiratory medicine, elderly care, paediatrics, general practice and more general medicine. But there are lots of other things people do too, usually you get some choice/get to rank rotations that you would prefer but that doesn’t mean you get them. During the 2nd year of foundation programmes you can apply for specialty training, so if you want to be a surgeon, this would be in surgery. Then there are exams that are part of surgical training to become a member of the royal college of surgeons which is necessary to be a consultant surgeon. These exams will be a combination of written exams and a clinical exam with real live patients (you wouldn’t be expected to do an operation under exam conditions though!). Im not an expert on these exams though as im a paediatrician, but I suspect Deepak will be along shortly to fill in the details as he will have done them. Or you can find more info here: https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/education-and-exams/exams/

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 21 Jun 2019:


      Usually, you would need to have studied Medicine at University and then you can specialise after that. To do Medicine, you need to have done something along the lines of science (so Biology, Chemistry or even Physics) and Maths will usually help. If you would like to work abroad, doing a language can help too.

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 21 Jun 2019:


      It depends what kind of surgeon. If you want to do surgery on humans or animals you would need a medical degree, or veterinary medical degree respectively. Newly qualified vets are automatically ‘veterinary surgeons’ since they get trained in basic surgery at vet school, but some chosse to go on and do further specialist training in Soft Tissue Surgery or Orthopaedic Surgery or Neurology & Neurosurgery (these last two are not yet split in the veterinary world!). Specialist veterinary training usually takes another 3-4 years. To become a surgeon for human patients, this is the typical track (but it can differ):
      Essential qualifications
      A five-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC)
      A two-year foundation course of general training (a paid position)
      Core surgical training in a hospital (a paid position lasting two years)
      Specialty training (a paid position lasting up to six years)

      Some scientists can perform a small number of surgeries on laboratory animals without a veterinary degree, but they need special training for this.

    • Photo: Thiloka Ratnaike

      Thiloka Ratnaike answered on 21 Jun 2019:


      Think the others have answered this question comprehensively! If you have any other questions please feel free to ask.

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 24 Jun 2019:


      The others have definitely got this one covered!

    • Photo: Shobhana Nagraj

      Shobhana Nagraj answered on 24 Jun 2019:


      To be a surgeon, you would need to complete your medical school degree (MBBS or equivalent). Then after qualifying as a doctor, you need to complete 2 years as foundation doctor to be registered with the General Medical Council in the UK.
      After this you can chose to do core surgical training, which last 2 years. During this time, you will develop skills in general surgery and the ward care of surgical patients, as well as operating. Most people who want to do surgery as a career will complete their Membership Exams to the Royal College of Surgeons during this time, which is a tough exam!
      After this, you would need to enter Specialty training in surgery – this is when you can choose which branch of surgery you want to specialise in – for example, I specialised in paediatric surgery (children’s surgery), you could also decide to be a brain surgeon or a heart surgeon, as well as many others! Speciality training can last between 6-8 years.
      If you want to be an academic surgeon, it can also take longer, as you might study for a PhD during your specialty training! After completing your Specialty training, you will have gained the confidence and skills to operate and manage patients independently and take another exam called a Fellowship to the Royal College of Surgeons in your given surgical speciality (again a tough exam!) so that you can become a Consultant Surgeon. It is a long road but really worth it and it has been a great experience for me to be a surgeon. I hope you go for it! ..and wishing you all the best! 🙂

    • Photo: Deepak Chandrasekharan

      Deepak Chandrasekharan answered on 27 Jun 2019:


      It’s a great career but there’s a few steps to get there in the UK

      1. GCSEs
      2. Science A-levels to get to medschool
      3. A medical degree at uni
      4. Surgical college exams (Member of Royal College of Surgeons)
      5. Surgical specialty specific exams e.g. if you want to be an orthopaedic surgeon or a cardiac surgeon (Once you pass this you become a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons)

      You also do a lot of training courses along the way, and maybe a research degree too!

      It’s a fun process though and you’re always learning so if you enjoy it – go for it!

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