Despite its name, general surgery is one of many surgery-centered specialties. This specialty requires an individual to have a wide skill set and knowledge base as he or she is responsible for managing both planning and care before, during, and after surgical procedures.

This specialty is continuing to evolve as technological advancements allow for greater precision which may further improve a patient’s health and quality of life. Additional information on this specialty can be found on The American Board of Surgery’s website.

To view AMO’s clinical experiences in general surgery, click here.


There are currently 323 residency programs in general surgery. These programs can be broken down further into their subspecialties. These include complex general surgical oncology, hand surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, and vascular surgery. Between 2018 and 2019, 8,844 medical graduates were placed into these programs. 1414 of these individuals identified as international medical graduates.

For additional data on 2018-2019 residency statistics, check the ACGME’s website here.

General surgery residency lasts five years. Other surgical specialties require individuals to complete a general surgery residency and follow it up with additional years of sub specialty training.

For a more definitive guide on how long IMGs can expect to serve as residents in any given surgical specialty, check out this guide by the American College of Surgeons.

Practicing as a Physician

At present, there are 18,000 general surgeons practicing in the U.S. Although this number may seem large, given a growing U.S. population, many have predicted a shortage of physicians in this specialty. During the next decade we may experience the effects of this shortage as current general surgeons approach retirement. This said, general surgery is a specialty that current international medical students and graduates should consider. For additional details on the shortage check out this article by the American Association of Medical Colleges.

Another incentive to become a general surgeon-the high pay. The average general surgeon has a salary of $362,000. Self-employed general surgeons often make significantly more than this amount.

Want to learn more about the specialty of general surgery? A clinical experience with AMO could be a great introduction! Create an account to view and apply for our general surgery clinical experiences!