We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do Doctors Learn How to Perform Surgery?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A surgeon is a type of medical doctor who specializes in treating illness and injury through operating on the patient. Surgery can be relatively minor, such as making stitches to bind together a small wound, or extremely major, such as opening a patient to replace an essential organ.

The path doctors take to learn how to perform surgery is not an easy one. It requires many thousands of hours of intense study and practice before being declared ready to perform on a live, human being. The mean time to becoming a surgeon, after completion of a high-school education, is approximately twelve years.

The normal path to becoming a surgeon begins with an undergraduate education focusing on the biological sciences. Undergraduates pursuing medical school take a number of biology and physiology classes, as well as organic chemistry and basic physics. Students who are aware they want to learn how to perform surgery, often take electives focusing in depth on anatomy. Volunteer work is usually undertaken in free time, and internships may be pursued during the summer term. In this way a potential surgeon becomes acquainted with the hospital environment, even before beginning graduate school, ensuring they will have less to adjust to once they begin their studies in earnest.

Graduate schools in medicine are highly competitive in the United States and most European countries, with those who want to learn how to perform surgery being one of the most sought after specialties in this already crowded arena. In the United States medical schools require standardized test scores from the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test).

For the first two years, medical students spend most of their time in classes similar to their undergraduate education, though more challenging. In addition to delving deeper into subjects they have already begun studying, they also begin learning procedural information, such as how to take case histories and make diagnoses. Most schools also offer opportunities for students with a surgical focus to operate on human cadavers in order to gain a better understanding of the surgical process.

The last two years of medical school consist of a method of teaching more like an apprenticeship than a standard classroom environment. Students work with actual patients, while being observed by experienced surgeons, to gain firsthand experience in the field. In addition to their area of focus, medical students are required to rotate through other fields, such as pediatrics, internal medicine, and obstetrics, to gain a more holistic feel for the medical world they will be working within.

After medical school the doctor enters into a residency. During their residency the doctor is paid, and works in an actual hospital, operating on actual patients. They are under the close supervision of directors, who observe their work, and this time is used to further hone the skill sets they have gained during their formal education. Finally, all the hard work spent to learn how to perform surgery pays off.

Residencies can last anywhere from two to six years, and upon completion the surgeon is ready to strike out on their own, either as a full surgeon at the hospital they served their residence in, or in a different practice. For those that desire to become a surgeon, the path is a challenging but rewarding one.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon997688 — On Feb 13, 2017

Surgeons and doctors in general are life changers to me, because of the many lives they influence positively with their skill set. Even though they sometimes are not perfect, I am glad there are so many around and I personally and strongly desire to become one of the best, if not the best.

By calpat — On Feb 19, 2011

I think it's great that doctors have to go through a residency before becoming full-fledged surgeons. I don't think there is any better way to learn something like that than through a hands on process.

At them same time, I think I would be a little nervous to know that a resident was performing surgery on me. I know they have to learn. And, like I said, it's a great way to learn. However, I would rather that a surgeon was not learning on me.

By reader888 — On Feb 16, 2011

I'm surprised that surgery is such a sought after field. I've never had any desire to learn surgery. In fact, I couldn't imagine having to do something like that.

But I guess it's a good thing that there are so many people interested in it. I've never had surgery. But, if I ever do, I'm happy to know that there are so many surgeons out there.

By upnorth31 — On Feb 15, 2011

It sounds like a long, painstaking process to become a surgeon. Although, I'm extremely glad that's the case. I have to have knee surgery soon, and I feel much better about having it knowing that the person who will be operating on me has gone through such long and extensive training.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.