Surgery is an extremely rewarding career which marries logical decision making with practical skills. It allows you to make a holistic difference to a patient’s condition.
There will be some amongst you that have wanted to do neurosurgery from Day 1 of medical school and others who remain unsure regarding their sub-speciality interest. The key message here is do not panic - time is on your side.
If you are interested in having a career in surgery, it is imperative that you get adequate early exposure to its pros and cons. As ever, your approach should be guided by what interests you rather than something that may sound impressive.
Crucially, do not let any stereotypes put you off pursuing something you are genuinely interested in. Now more than ever there is a concerted effort to ensure that training opportunities are more accessible. Less than full time training pathways exist to allow greater flexibility to attain better work-life balance.
The entry into a surgical training programme is competitive. It requires prolonged drive through medical school and beyond (foundation/core training). Therefore, if you are picking a speciality without the proper due diligence, you may find yourself losing interest.
Engagement with your university’s surgical society affords you some valuable contacts in the surgical sphere (through local mentoring schemes) and the opportunity to attend career days. You should make an effort to speak with surgeons (of all levels!) to get a true appreciation of what the training path entails.
During your time on surgical placements, you should keep an open mind. Think - What is it about the case that interests you? Are you enthralled by the microsurgical elements of plastic surgery or do you prefer the challenges of managing severe trauma in orthopaedics? Are you interested in becoming an academic with an active role in surgical research?
It is never too early to make a start on your surgical portfolio.
This folder (or e-folder) demonstrates your interest, commitment and your journey through training. It is always evaluated in interviews when applying for training posts and should be laid out logically. Further guidance by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) can be found here
You can start your surgical logbook now! elogbook
is a free service used by UK surgeons to keep track of their operations. Been to an interesting operation on placement? Observed or assisted?
Add it to your elogbook, over time you will build a body of evidence that demonstrates your interest in surgery.
In last weeks LIVE Q&A
, we discussed the benefits of finding a suitable mentor and getting involved with research /audits. This does not need to be specialty specific in the early stages but undertaking such work demonstrates keenness. It also shows a clear understanding that time spent in theatre performing surgery is only a part of a surgeon’s commitments.