Surgeons are physicians or doctors who perform preoperative, operative,
and postoperative surgical care that can affect almost every part of
Their name comes from the Greek word “Chirurergeon”, “cheir”
meaning hand, and “ergeon” meaning work.
Types of Surgeons
There are many types of surgeons. Neurosurgeons work on the brain,
spine, and nerves. There are Otolaryngolgists, who are nose, ear, and
throat doctors. Ophthamologists are eye doctors. There’s the thorasic
surgeon, who operates on the chest. A Urologist operates on kidneys,
bladder, uterus, and prostate gland. Cardiologists are doctors who deal
with the heart, heart disease, and heart treatment. Plastic surgeons,
do reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
Education and Training
To become a surgeon you have to be a really good student in high
school, meaning one of the top 10% or so. Then you have to go to
college for at least 3 years and you have to get a Bachelors degree.
Then you have to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test).
Medical school takes about 3-4 years and then you enter residency,
serious on-the-job training. After you pass some more tests and get a
state license you’re a surgeon.
Medical students take many helpful classes. Anatomy is a detailed
examination of the body. Biochemistry is chemistry of biological
substances and processes. There’s also physiology, which is the
biological study of the functions of living organisms and their parts.
Pharmacology is the study of drugs including their effects, uses, and
composition. Psychology is the science of mental processes and
behavior. The study that deals with microorganisms and especially the
effects on other types of life is microbiology. Pathology is the
scientific study of the nature of disease process, development, and
consequences. Medical ethics is the medical code of conduct; what’s
right and wrong. Residency is just basically practice for surgery,
which will usually take 4 or more years.
In 2004 14.6% of the 567,000 U.S. doctors were surgeons, that’s 83,000
surgeons! Their yearly earnings are $229,000 if they have less than two
years of experience. Their yearly earnings are $283,000 if they
have more than two years of experience.
Surgery is said to be the oldest medical specialty. China, Egypt,
Greece, and India say that people have always performed surgery.
Pathology studies made surgery more effective. In the 18th century,
tumor and bladder stone removal was popular. Joseph Lister invented the
antiseptic in the 19th century. This made Surgery much safer, because
there was a good way to kill germs that might infect a person during
Surgeons use all kinds of different tools, like a retractor to hold
skin. Clamps are used to close blood vessels. They use scissors and
scalpels (knives) to open up the body. Bronchoscope’s (a skinny tool
with a tiny light) are used to inspect your bronchus which is a main
branch leading to your lung. They use lasers to cut body tissues. CT
scanners and x-ray machines are used to take pictures of your body and
what’s inside of it. A needle holder is used for the most obvious
thing, holding needles! They use laparoscopes to view the abdomen
(stomach) or pelvis’ (hip) cavities.
Categories of Surgery
Wound treatment is restoration of body tissues. Physiological surgery
is eliminating symptoms of disease, it also is transplantation surgery.
Reconstructive surgery is repairing injured or deformed body parts.
Medicine or chemicals will be applied to wounds during surgery to
Surgery is a very advanced medical specialty and is a very common and
Who I Interviewed And What I Learned
I interviewed Dr. William J. Surovchak on January 3,
2006. I figured that he’d be a good choice because he’s a Physician’s
Assistant (P.A.). This career is very close in relationship to a
surgeon. He has been involved with surgery for about 23 years. To
become a surgeon he had to go through 4 years of college, and 2 years
of P.A. school. His whole job responsibility is pretty much helping
The first P.A. program was at Duke University. In the late 1960’s many
corpsmen returning from war had good medical skills and experience but
no further education in medicine.
Some of the most recent changes are Orthopedics. “We operate on many
more fractures now as we can fix them more securely, have them heal
better, and get the patient back to work and play sooner” He said. The
new developments in surgery include, “New joint replacement Prosthetics
and medications to treat arthritis.”
One major problem we talked about is that new technologies and
medications always cost more while insurance companies want to pay less.
Dr. Surovchak says, “Medication or chemicals applied to a fracture at
surgery will enhance the healing.”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, “Physicians and Surgeons”,
http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos074.htm (visited January 12, 2006).
Morris, William, Editor. American
Heritage Dictionary. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973.
Encyclopedia. 2005. Pp. 175-178.
Encyclopedia. 2003. Pp.1-4.
“Surgery” World Book
Encyclopedia. Chicago, World Book Inc., 2004. Pp. 1-4.
Surovchak, William. Personal interview. January 3, 2006.
Webb-Sugar, Jan. Opportunities
in Physician Careers. Illinois:VGM Career Horizon, 2000.
Top of page
Menu of 2006 SOAR Projects
Back to the Selah