In Summary - Surgeon
The Work - Surgeon
Surgeons perform operations on patients, using their specialist knowledge of physiology, biochemistry, anatomy andpathology.They have to work very skilfully with their hands, and have a whole team of medical staff to support them.
The particular type of operation a surgeon performs depends on their speciality. These include:
- General surgery
- Neurosurgery (brain)
- Cardiothoracic surgery (heart and chest)
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery (head and neck)
- Ears, nose and throat (ENT) surgery
- Plastic surgery (skin and bone construction)
- Paediatric surgery (children)
- Trauma and orthopaedic surgery (bones and joints)
- Urology (urinary)
Surgeons divide their time between the outpatient clinic, the ward, the operating theatre and the office. In the outpatient clinic, they ask patients about their symptoms, and then examine and diagnose them. They may decide to add them to a waiting list for an operation or send them for further tests.
On the ward, surgeons visit their patients just before their operation. They check that incision markings are in the right place and answer any last minute questions. They might also check on patients after the operation, to make sure there are no problems.
Surgeons perform their operations in the theatre, which must be kept sterile. They either work through a series of routine minor operations or concentrate on one or two major operations, which could take hours. While they are operating, they teach junior doctors surgical techniques and procedures.
In the office, surgeons decide whether referrals from GPs are urgent or routine cases.
Surgeons also spend time doing research in order to keep up with new surgical technologies. They might publish articles in medical journals, and some surgeons lecture to other health professionals about surgery.
Surgeons work long hours and spend some time on-call. Their free time may suffer because of this. When they are on-call, they may have to perform emergency operations.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Follow established surgical techniques during the operation.
- Examine patient to obtain information on medical condition and surgical risk.
- Operate on patients to correct deformities, repair injuries, prevent and treat diseases, or improve or restore patients' functions.
- Analyze patient's medical history, medication allergies, physical condition, and examination results to verify operation's necessity and to determine best procedure.
- Prescribe preoperative and postoperative treatments and procedures, such as sedatives, diets, antibiotics, and preparation and treatment of the patient's operative area.
- Diagnose bodily disorders and orthopedic conditions and provide treatments, such as medicines and surgeries, in clinics, hospital wards, and operating rooms.
- Provide consultation and surgical assistance to other physicians and surgeons.
- Direct and coordinate activities of nurses, assistants, specialists, residents, and other medical staff.
- Refer patient to medical specialist or other practitioners when necessary.
- Prepare case histories.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Interests - Surgeon
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.
Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
You must have a sound knowledge of physiology, anatomy, biochemistryand pathology. A steady hand and good co-ordination skills are also essential.
You must also have the physical stamina to perform operations over a long period of time. You will have to make decisions under pressure and must be able to cope with stress.
You must be able to listen to, question and reassure patients and their families. Teamwork is an important part of the job, so it is vital that you can communicate well. You should also be hard-working and responsible.
Entry Requirements - Surgeon
To become a surgeon, you must first qualify as a medical doctor by taking a six-year degree programme in Medicine, followed by completion of a one-year internship in an approved hospital post.
You then start your Basic Speciality Training (BST) by taking up a place in the Surgical Training Scheme through the Royal College of Surgeons. During this time you will learn the principles of surgery, and practise the clinical and practical skills common to all branches of surgery.
You will then spend another five or six years in Higher Surgical Training. During this time you specialise in one of the nine main areas of surgery:
- Cardiothoracic Surgery
- Plastic Surgery
- General Surgery
- Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgery
- Ophthalmic Surgery
- Paediatric Surgery
On satisfactory completion of HST, you will receive a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion of Specialist Training (CSCST) which allows you to enter the Specialist Division of the Register with the Medical Council.
Once a doctor is on the Specialist Division of the Register with the Medical Council they are eligible to apply for consultant posts. However is not always easy to get into these highly-regarded positions.
Last Updated: March, 2015
Pay & Salary - Surgeon
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 39k - 120k
General Surgeon: 39 - 98
Orthopedic Surgeon: 41 - 120
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Surgeon
Due to international demand for these skills, job opportunities will continue to arise.
National Skills Bulletin 2018
Useful Contacts - Surgeon
Public Appointments Service
Health Service Executive (HSE)
Irish Medical Council