Surgeon Job Description

Surgeons are medical doctors who specialize in performing a variety of surgical procedures on patients who have been diagnosed with illnesses or health complications. Surgeons can specialize even further to perform only certain kinds of surgeries. They are highly skilled and educated, with steady hands and a penchant for working well with people. Where surgeons work can vary depending on their specialization and personal preferences, but most surgeons work in either a hospital or an outpatient clinic. Working hours can also vary widely, especially for surgeons who work in hospitals, which are open 24/7. Surgeons report directly to hospital administrators or executives.


Surgeon Duties and Responsibilities

Specific job duties for surgeons vary based on their employer or specialty. However, there are several core tasks common to all surgeons, such as:

Create Surgery Plans and Strategies

Before performing surgery, surgeons are responsible for creating comprehensive surgical plans and strategies. They work directly with patients to create these plans, ensuring their comfort throughout the entire process.

Perform Surgery

The surgeon’s main responsibility is to perform surgeries on their patients, following strict protocol under high pressure and stakes. During surgery, surgeons also lead a team of nurses and other medical staff to ensure the patient’s safety.

Create Postoperative Care Strategies

Surgeons create comprehensive postoperative care strategies with their patients after their surgeries. Surgeons create these strategies to help patients recover as fast as possible with minimized pain or discomfort.

Report on Surgery Success and Patient Satisfaction

Surgeons are responsible for reporting on the success of their surgeries. In the event of surgical failures, surgeons report to hospital management about the reasons behind the failure and what processes are being implemented to prevent it from happening in the future.

Participate in Surgical Research

Surgeons may participate in surgical research studies that aim to improve surgical procedures and their effectiveness. They are also constantly looking for ways to improve their own methods and procedures.


Surgeon Skills and Qualifications

Surgeons work extremely well under pressure, keeping their hands steady even during stressful procedures. Most employers look for surgeon candidates who have a high level of education and experience. Successful candidates also demonstrate the following skills and qualifications:

  • Dexterity – surgeons possess a high degree of hand-eye coordination. They are precise in every movement during surgery, which ensures safety and success for their patients
  • Medical knowledge and experience – surgeons are incredibly knowledgeable in the medical field, and they can quickly apply that knowledge to make immediate decisions before and during surgery
  • Bedside manner – since surgeons work with patients on a daily basis, often during stressful situations, they need to be especially charismatic and caring. They can comfort patients up to the moment of surgery with their confidence and kindness
  • Physical stamina – surgeons often perform surgery for hours at a time. As such, they possess the appropriate amount of physical stamina to endure long procedures
  • Problem-solving skills – sometimes surgeries go wrong, but surgeons can think quickly without hesitation. They employ problem-solving skills to think of good solutions to sticky situations


Tools of the Trade

Surgeons employ a variety of tools during surgical procedures and around the office. These tools may include:

  • Surgical equipment (scalpels, surgical scissors, clamps)
  • Medical monitoring equipment (heart monitors, blood pressure cuffs)
  • Electronic medical records software (drchrono HER, AdvancedMD, NueMD)


Surgeon Education and Training

Surgeons are some of the most educated people in today’s professional world. Before becoming surgeons, they undergo four years of undergraduate education and four years of medical school, then spend anywhere from three to eight years in a residency program. Most states require surgeons to be properly licensed to practice medicine and surgery. These licensing requirements can vary depending on the state where the surgeon works.

Surgeon Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), surgeons make a median salary of around $251,000 per year. This salary can vary widely depending on the area of medicine in which the surgeon specializes. The top 10 percent of surgeons – usually general surgeons and anesthesiologists – make as much as $450,000 per year.

The BLS reports that surgeons can expect to experience employment growth of around 13 percent over the next 10 years. This growth is due in part to the aging baby-boomer population. However, new advances in automated medical technology have also increased the need for surgeons overall.


Helpful Resources

Check out this list of helpful resources to learn more about the surgeon’s role:

WebSurg – this website is a completely free resource for current and aspiring surgeons who want to dig their fingers deeper into the medical world. It provides a host of videos about specific surgical procedures. The website is easy to use and allows users to filter content by different parts of the body or technologies

Physician’s Weekly – this website has been considered a “trusted source of medical news and information” for surgeons and other medical professionals for more than 35 years. It contains in-depth articles covering a variety of different specialties. It also provides helpful videos, funny cartoons, and informative infographics

Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science – this book, written by an actual surgeon, was a finalist for the 2002 National Book Awards for nonfiction books. The book reviews the author’s real-world experiences to give never-before-seen insights into the surgical world

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – another book written by an actual surgeon, Being Mortal reveals the struggles that many surgeons face on a daily basis. It focuses on the ways surgeons can provide patients with a good life instead of a good death


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