Surgeons carry out operations and medical procedures on patients.
Relevant to

What does a surgeon do?

In this role you could be:

  • meeting the patient before the operation to decide on the best course of action
  • explaining the procedures and risk
  • taking tests and arrange X-rays
  • carrying out operations with a team of people
  • carrying out ward rounds
  • writing to GPs about your patients’ conditions and treatments

What do I need to do to become a surgeon?

To become a surgeon you'll need to complete:

  • a five-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council
  • a two-year foundation programme of general training
  • two years of core surgical training in a hospital
  • up to six years of specialist training

You may be able to join a six-year degree course in medicine without A levels or equivalent qualifications in science. The course includes a one-year pre-medical foundation year.

If you already have a first class or upper second class science degree, you could take a four-year graduate entry route into medicine. Some universities will also accept non-science graduates.

When you apply for a course in medicine, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) to check your suitability for a career in medicine.

There's a lot of competition for places on medical degrees. Most university admissions departments will expect you to have done some relevant paid or voluntary experience.


Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Patience
  • Problem solving
  • Technical ability

Academic route

  • seven GCSEs, including sciences, with 5 subjects at grades 9 to 7 (A* or A) and English and maths at least grade 6 to 5 (B)
  • three A levels, including 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 could work in an NHS or private hospital.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.


Career opportunities

With experience and entry on the General Medical Council (GMC) Specialist Register, you could apply for senior or consultant roles, go on to lead a team, or manage a department.

You could also move into teaching and training students, trainee doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0


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