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Surgeon Job Description: Top Duties and Requirements

A Surgeon, or General Surgeon, is a type of Physician that performs surgical procedures on patients to treat a wide range of illnesses. Surgeons can perform general surgery, but many Surgeons specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as neurology, cardiology, or orthopedics.

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Surgeon duties and responsibilities

A Surgeon’s primary duty is to operate on patients, but they have various other duties and responsibilities to attend to as well, including:

  • Examine patients to diagnose whether they need surgery
  • Create a surgical and treatment plan based on the patient’s medical history
  • Perform preoperative checks to ensure the patient is ready for surgery
  • Ensure everything in the operating room is sterile
  • Inform patients about the surgery and any risks involved
  • Oversee postoperative treatment
  • Research new surgical techniques
  • Observe the Canadian Patient Bill of Rights
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What does a Surgeon do?

A Surgeon performs preoperative diagnoses on patients to learn what type of surgery they need. Surgeons will then operate to treat the injury, disease, or deformity using surgical instruments. It is up to the discretion of the Surgeon to make any important decisions during surgery. Afterwards, they provide postoperative surgical care and treatment to patients.

Surgeon skills and qualifications

Surgeons must complete years of medical training to perform their job successfully. They also need several additional skills and qualifications, including the following:

  • A degree in medicine
  • Strong time-management skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Excellent decision-making skills
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • Superb written and verbal communication
  • High degree of manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and visuospatial awareness
  • Ability to manage a team effectively

Surgeon experience requirements

To become a licensed Surgeon, candidates spend years working closely with established professionals before they can practice independently. They gain experience through medical school and residency programs as part of their academic requirements. Aspiring Surgeons need to have at least seven years of practical experience. Two years during medical school, and five or more years of experience in a residency.

Surgeon education and training requirements

Surgeons must complete years of schooling before they can operate on a patient themselves. The first thing they must do is get a bachelor’s degree in a field of science. There are specific prerequisite courses to be admitted to medical school, so candidates need to ensure they meet those requirements before advancing. This normally takes four years.

Following this, candidates need to study for and complete the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be accepted to one of Canada’s 17 medical schools. Medical school programs take another four years of dedicated study. Two of which are spent working with patients under a Physician’s supervision.

After medical school, aspiring Surgeons must pass the Medical Council of Canada Evaluation Examination (MCCEE). Passing this exam makes them a licensed Physician. Then, they must apply for a residency program at a Canadian hospital, where they work closely with established Surgeons.

The length of a residency depends on their area of specialization. For example, General Surgeons must complete a five-year residency program. Many specialties require this five-year General Surgery residency and an additional two to three years focusing on their chosen specialty.

Finally, Surgeons must complete a certifying examination from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and certification from the regulatory body in their province or territory. A Surgeon is then qualified to practice independently.

Surgeon salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Surgeon in Canada is $235,768 per year. This salary is dependent on specialty, experience, location and employer.

Job description samples for similar positions

If a Surgeon isn’t quite what you’re looking for, some related job descriptions include:

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Surgeon job description FAQs

What areas of medicine can a Surgeon specialize in?

Surgeons can choose to specialize in many areas, including the following: 

  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • General surgery
  • Colon and rectal surgery
  • Gynecology and obstetrics
  • Gynecologic oncology
  • Neurological surgery
  • Ophthalmic surgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Plastic and maxillofacial surgery
  • Urology
  • Vascular surgery

Where can a Surgeon work?

Surgeons primarily work in hospitals, but can also work in private practices, ambulatory surgery centers, or academic institutions to train future Physicians. Surgeons can also work for the military.

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