Surgeons specialise in caring for patients who need an operation.
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What does a surgeon do?

Surgeons perform operations on patients that have been injured, have a disease, or have a condition that is getting worse. They need to put people at ease and inspire trust and confidence, as well as being able to work under pressure and make quick, accurate decisions.

Patients may be referred to surgeons by other hospital doctors and GPs, or they may have been admitted to hospital through the accident and emergency department. Surgeons also:

  • meet the patient (and family) before the operation to decide on the best course of action for their condition
  • explain the procedures and risk
  • take tests and arrange X-rays
  • carry out operations with a team of people including other surgeons, anaesthetists, technicians and nurses
  • liaise with nurses and junior doctors after operations
  • carry out ward rounds (daily visits to check on the progress of your patients)
  • write to GPs about your patients’ conditions and treatments

Surgeons specialise in one of ten surgical areas, including, plastic surgery, ENT, paediatric surgery, trauma and orthopaedic surgery, and are responsible for training and supervising junior doctors and other healthcare professionals in the hospital. They might also carry out research and write papers for publication. 

What do I need to do to become a surgeon?

To become a surgeon, you'll need to complete a five-year degree course in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council. You'll also have to do further training that will take up to ten years.​​​ 

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership

Academic route

  • Five GCSEs (A-C), including English, maths and science
  • Three A levels at grades AAB in subjects such as chemistry, biology and either physics or maths

Related subjects

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Maths
  • Physics

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)

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You’ll find work opportunities in the NHS and private sector.

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