The medical specialty of general surgery deals with diagnosing and treating health issues through surgery. This requires those practicing to provide pre-operative, operative, and postoperative care to patients to ensure minimal complications along the way. Those with degrees in general surgery are called general surgeons.

General surgeons are required to have extensive medical knowledge as they must carry out surgical procedures impacting various parts of the body, including, but not limited to, the abdomen, skin, head, neck, limbs, and some organs. This medical specialty requires excellent motor skills, adaptability, and teamwork.

Do the requirements listed above come naturally to you? Perhaps you should consider specializing in general surgery or one of its many subspecialties. For information on postgraduate education in this specialty and what to expect should you become a general surgeon, continue reading below.



Once you have graduated from medical school, you will need to complete a general surgery residency. General Surgery residencies last five years but, for those looking to subspecialize, additional training is required. Subspecialties of general surgery include complex general surgical oncology, hand surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, and vascular surgery.

According to the American Medical Association, there were roughly 8,844 general surgeon residents between 2018 and 2019. About 16%, or 1414 individuals, identified as international medical students.


Practicing as a Surgeon

American Association of Medical Colleges, in 2017, roughly 25,000 general surgery specialists were practicing in the U.S. The average annual salary for this population is $362,000, a number which only about 43% of the people of practicing general surgeon says they feel is fair. Long hours and stringent rules and regulations are a few of the reasons why general surgeons say they should be making more.

Regardless of their personal feelings, general surgeons are on the higher end of the pay scale for medical professionals. In fact, in one study, 81% of general surgeons said that if they had to do it all over again, they would still choose to specialize in general surgery.


Additional information on this specialty can be found on The American Board of Surgery’s website.


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