How to Become a General Surgeon

How to Become a General Surgeon – Overview

A general surgeon is a medical professional who performs surgical procedures across a wide range of conditions affecting almost any body area.

Surgeons perform both invasive and minimally invasive surgeries to treat various health conditions.

They may include problems arising from injury or disease. For instance, surgeons can operate on a malfunctioning heart, remove a brain tumor or repair fractured bones.

Surgeons rely on highly technical diagnostic procedures and precision equipment for performing surgeries.

Surgeons, like other physicians, may perform routine physical examinations and other assessments as part of preoperative and postoperative care. However, surgeons are directly engaged in patient care.

4 Steps to Become a General Surgeon

There are four steps to becoming a general surgeon in the United States.

Firstly, you must complete high school with excellent grades and a strong aptitude for science and math. A passion for medicine and the human body is also a plus point.

These are the four main steps to becoming a general surgeon in the US:

  1. Earn an undergraduate degree with a focus on the prerequisites for medical school.
  2. Pass MCAT exam
  3. Enroll in medical school
  4. Enter surgical specialty and residency for surgeons

Now, let’s take a detailed look at the four steps required to become a general surgeon:

How to Become a General Surgeon

1 – Earn an undergraduate degree in pre-med

As an undergrad student, you should focus more on pre-med studies. Find a curriculum suitable for admission into medical school later on.

During your undergraduate years, you will also need to take up organic chemistry. Organic chemistry is a prerequisite for medical school admission, not specifically a benchmark for identifying potential general surgeons.

Apart from this, make sure you learn the following subjects during your undergraduate and pre-med years:

  • Physics
  • General Chemistry
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Vertebrae anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and molecular biology

2 – Pass MCAT Exam

Near the end of pre-med training, you should start preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Achieving a competitive MCAT score is important for medical school admissions; however, it does not solely indicate future success or skill as a surgeon. Prepare for this test as soon as possible during your pre-med years.

3 – Enroll in medical school

Once you successfully pass the MCAT with a high score, you must choose a medical school for enrollment.

4 years of medical school provide a foundational understanding of the human body, medical knowledge, and clinical skills, which are then further developed during residency and specialty training. Its problems and surgical and non-surgical treatments.

To prepare for the upcoming residency after medical school, you can choose to take up additional courses, including:

  • Mind, Brain and Behavior
  • Practice of Medicine
  • Homeostasis I & II
  • Immunity and Disease
  • Professional Development

4 – Enter surgical specialty and residency for surgeons

By the time you have completed medical school, you will need to choose a sub-specialty.

You will need to determine the specific area of the body or physiological system in the body you need to specialize in. This is where residency for surgeons comes in handy.

The residency program usually covers your chosen specialty. Here, you will work with professional, certified and expert physicians and surgeons.

You will be made to advise on diagnostics, treatment and prevention of disorders under the direct supervision of a trained, skilled mentor.

Choosing a sub-specialty and pursuing a fellowship is optional and depends on the surgeon’s career goals and interests. General surgery itself can be a final specialty without further subspecialization.

Last, you must acquire a medical license and maybe earn a board certification simultaneously.

Every state has its own rules and regulations regarding medical licenses. Obtaining a medical license requires passing exams (such as USMLE) and meeting the state’s specific requirements where one intends to practice. Make sure to fulfill every criterion for your particular state before applying for the license.

Next, you can choose to get board certification. This is a great way to boost your reputation and trust amongst patients.

How much is the salary for a General Surgeon

A professional, licensed general surgeon has the potential to earn high. The average salary also increases with experience. A general surgeon’s mean salary will also depend on the specific subspecialty in which he or she is trained.

On average, a practicing general surgeon in the United States can earn around $229,300 annually.


General surgeons are in great demand in the US and in large and small hospitals worldwide.

These highly skilled surgeons can perform numerous surgical treatments that are essential to combat several debilitating and degenerative diseases and disorders.

Make sure to choose a reputed medical school and trusted healthcare setting to complete your medical education and training.

See Also

How to Become a Dermatologist

What is NRMP

How to Become a Plastic Surgeon

How to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon

Current Version
April 1, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
November 22, 2021
Written By
Shubham Grover

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