Discover your career path


Cut open patients to treat illness and injury.

What does a Surgeon do?

A surgeon uses invasive techniques (cutting open patients) to treat disease or injury. You may work in an emergency room where every case requires a quick evaluation and reaction time, or specialize in a field where you evaluate, counsel, and prepare a treatment plan with the patient.

Unless you’re in emergency care, you first interview and examine the patient. You discuss options and formulate a plan. This plan varies widely depending on your area of expertise. It could be to place pins in a shattered bone, repair a damaged heart, or remove a gall bladder. With a plan in hand, you schedule the surgery, perform the operation, and provide follow-up care. You spend your days coming and going between the operating room and your clinic and, therefore, spend your time divided between the outside of the patient (consulting) and the inside (surgery).

Surgeons commonly choose a field in which to specialize. Plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, cardiovascular surgeons, and spinal surgeons are all examples.

Regardless of your patient base, you need a huge range of tools for this position. Because surgeries often take many hours longer than expected, long hours are par for the course. That means you need an acute ability to focus, communicate, and work well with a team of nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologists while fighting fatigue and hunger. In addition, it is probably one of the most stressful jobs on the planet, although you can balance that with the rewards of saving a human life.