How To Become A Surgeon After High School?

From treating a sick heart to fixing the knee, a surgeon is a doctor with a medical degree and a specialty in performing surgeries on one or more organs. Being a job of high risk and responsibility, these professionals use highly advanced diagnostic data and precise operating tools to perform these delicate procedures. 

While surgery is a branch of medical science, however, it needs some extra competence to cut open the human body and fix the problem from the root. Due to the nature of the job, a lot of students might want to become surgeons once they finish high school. In fact, this is the time when we, as young adults, decide what career we wish to go for. The same is the case with students who wish to opt for surgery.

However, a prime question that makes headway in the minds of high schoolers is how they can become Surgeons after high school. This post will cover the various steps, qualifications, and requirements one needs to opt for this career. 

Can you Become A Surgeon after high school?

While you can opt for becoming a surgeon after high school; however, this is a career path that involves many prerequisites. Besides having a good aptitude for science and math, your scores would also play a major role in determining your career as a surgeon.  Apart from this, you must be passionate about medicine and the human body. This will make your four years of health science undergraduate study and three years of medical school, followed by your residency and subsequent specialty work, easier. And lastly, but the most important, having a degree to become a surgeon is the most crucial step. 

Although you will put in a lot of effort over this entire process, being a surgeon is rewarding on a personal and financial level. Medical students’ undergraduate majors are scarcely a secret. This simply means that as a high schooler, you would have to choose biological sciences as one of your majors. The Association of American Medical Colleges compiles this information and states that out of the 22,239 students that started medical school in 2020, 12,845, that is, more than 60% had a background in the biological sciences. 

Requirements to become a surgeon after high school

While some problems can easily be treated through medication, others might need surgery. Surgeons conduct various tasks, including patient diagnosis, therapy selection, patient education, surgery, and after-care. The role of a surgeon is of acute responsibility, as the team of nurses and technicians performing the procedure is under the surgeon’s direction. Hence, to make one ready for this role, a set of requirements must be met. Some of which are: 

#1 Achieve a Bachelor’s Degree

To become a surgeon, you must first have a bachelor’s degree. Enrolling in a pre-med program and majoring in a subject like chemistry or biology with a strong medical component is advised. Candidates for medical schools must have completed a sufficient number of the required science courses. Letters of reference and MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores must be included with an applicant’s admission to a medical school. Finally, students should participate in activities that showcase their desire to assist others, capacity for collaboration, and leadership qualities.

#2 Medical College

A medical degree is the first step in training to become a general surgeon. In the first two years of medical school, the main emphasis is on coursework, including in-depth studies of the human body, medical procedures, and medical ethics. The third and forth years will be devoted to supervised clinical practice, where students will participate in closely monitored patient care and teamwork with other medical specialists in various settings. 

#3 Intern in Surgery

Students in their first year of a residency are referred to as interns by certain programs, whereas residents is the term used by other organizations.

The third-year medical school winter

Students should consult with their advisers often to choose which residency programs will best fit them.


– Use the Electronic Residency Application Service to apply (ERAS).

– Recommendation letters are necessary for this.

– Before applying for a residency, it is advised that students take the second part of their licensing tests.

Characteristics of Successful Students

– Elected to Alpha Omega Alpha with a license exam score in the top 10%

– Positioned in the top 10% in their class

– Possess scholarly publications

– Outstanding letters of recommendation  

#4 Residency

Depending on the institution and the resident’s chosen subspecialties, surgical residencies can last five to 10 years. Throughout the residency, students will continue to enhance their surgical abilities after learning the fundamentals. In various settings, students will witness skilled surgeons at work and interact with them. Additionally, they will go to class and finish their tasks.

#5 Registration and Certification

The next step for candidates is to appear for a nationally recognized licensure exam. Candidates for medical degrees must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). On the other hand, the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam is required for D.O. applicants (COMLEX-USA). There are three sections in both tests. Typically, the first two portions are taken in medical school. The last test component is given to candidates during their residency.

It is advised that surgeons get board certification since it will increase their marketability to employers and patients. The American Board of Surgery accepts applicants with an M.D. or a D.O. for certification in general surgery and several subspecialties (ABS). For candidates with a Doctoral degree, the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery provides certifications in general surgery and surgical subspecialties.

What Major Is Best For Becoming A Surgeon?

There is no undergraduate major that, by itself, will prepare you to pursue licensure as a surgeon, which is the first thing to bear in mind while considering a future as a surgeon. This can only be done with a doctoral-level medical degree, such as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). The long road to this job has one-stop—a bachelor’s degree. Aspiring surgeons should consider all aspects of this route and their main alternatives. However, choosing a major that will prepare you for your career ahead would be a wise thing to do. Therefore, here are a few majors a high schooler can opt for if they are ambitious enough to become a surgeon. 

#1 Physiology

A human physiology bachelor’s degree program provides extensive, in-depth information on the ideas of the human body, its functions, and its structure at the micro and macro levels as well as in a healthy and ill state. Students gain an understanding of thermoregulation, environmental pressures, and monitoring of the effects of physical exercise on bodily states through frequent law assessments and formal teaching.

● Science behind rehabilitation

● Neuroanatomy

● Fitness physiology

● Biomechanics

● Immunology

● Aging and Genetics

Some universities also provide internship opportunities for students to work in clinics, hospitals, research facilities, and other settings to solve issues in the real world. 

#2 Biology

A human biology bachelor’s degree focuses on the fundamental knowledge needed by students who want to work as doctors, surgeons, or other medical professionals. The life sciences, anatomy, physiology, molecular biology, and ecology are the foundational subjects covered in this degree. Additionally, students participate in practical lab sessions that encourage the application of theoretical concepts. The program offers course specializations as mentioned below.

● Biochemistry

● Anatomy

● Neuroscience

● Genetics

● Bio-anthropology

● Ecological biology

Students may enroll in supplementary courses like statistics and research techniques to prepare for further study and gain additional knowledge as per their interests.

#3 Medical Sciences

A bachelor’s degree with a focus in health sciences gives students a broad grasp of how social and mental variables affect general health and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, courses in biology, physiology, organic chemistry, nutrition, mathematics, psychology, ethics, and health care policy are part of this multidisciplinary program. The curriculum also includes the below-mentioned concentrations:

● Microbiology

● Chemistry, organic

● Public health

● Psychology

● biology and anatomy

Some universities also provide possibilities for internships at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities, which is beneficial for getting into medical schools. Internships also help students gain a practical understanding of their field resulting in additional experience.

#4 Chemistry

Another major selected to get a bachelor’s degree in is chemistry. Because of this subject’s usefulness, what you learn in a bachelor’s degree will surpass what you learn in two years of chemistry at a medical school. These are the following courses available to those choosing to major in chemistry:

● Chemistry

● Mineral chemistry

● Biochemistry

The courses also include physics, biology, mathematics, statistics, and computer science to prepare for the following programs. Students aspiring to be surgeons or doctors can consider their major in this field.

Concluding Insights

As you must maintain a good GPA to get admitted to a medical school, pick the proper majors based on your interests and professional objectives. The MCAT exam and entrance to the medical program are not significantly influenced by a student’s major. Your credibility is naturally increased when you select a course of study from an approved university. You also get the chance to intern at businesses and gain experience in the healthcare sector, which happens to be a bonus. 

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