Planning to Undergo a Surgery Residency? Here's What to Expect

Planning to Undergo a Surgery Residency? Here's What to Expect

Jul 18, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

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Once you’ve graduated from medical school, it’s time to look for available residency programs through The Match. On average, surgeons have a good job outlook because of the high demand for healthcare services from an increasing population of aging individuals. If you’re looking into surgery residency, preparation is the key to long-term success.

Certified surgeons undergo a lengthy process from going through a 4-year medical school and about 3 to 10 years of surgery residency. Not only that, but you will also be required to take continuous learning experience through training and seminars to maintain your license and keep updated.

There are 14 specializations with varying residency periods and requirements. If you’re still unsure what to go for, here’s the breakdown of specialties to help you streamline your choices.

General Surgery

Individuals trained in this specialization manage a broad spectrum of surgical cases in the body. Surgeons will be handling diagnosis to post-operation care of their patients. It’s also expected that they will also be responsible for a comprehensive evaluation of trauma patients and those with critical illnesses. After medical school and getting a degree, expect a 5-year residency training acquiring skills and managing conditions affecting endocrine systems, head and neck, abdomen, gastrointestinal, and extremities to name a few.

Colon and Rectal Surgery

With this specialty, you will be expected to undergo 5 years of training as a general surgeon and an additional year for training in colon and rectal cases. You will also be trained in evaluating cases involving nearby tissues and organs (e.g. liver, female reproductive system) due to an intestinal-related case.

Thoracic Surgery

Thoracic surgery involves handling cases involving the chest such as lung cancer, abnormalities in the heart valves and vessels, congenital abnormalities, and diaphragm-related cases. Aside from the 5-year general surgery, you will be undergoing 2-year technical and knowledge training for handling tools such as extracorporeal circulation, respiratory support devices, heart assist devices, and pleural drainage to name a few. You will also be trained in assessing various heart and lung abnormalities such as cardiac dysrhythmias and perform diagnostic tests.

Gynecologic Oncology

Gynecologic oncology specializes in evaluating female reproductive system cancers. Residency for this specialty requires you to undergo a 4-year Obstetrics and Gynecologic training before proceeding to 2 to 3 years of training in gynecologic oncology assessment, evaluation, and treatments.

Obstetrics and Gynecology

For this specialty, you will undergo 4 years of medical and surgical training for pregnant women, delivering babies, and treating female reproductive system conditions. Individuals specializing in this usually have a strong inclination towards adolescent and pediatric gynecology, urogynecology, pelviscopy, and infectious diseases.

Ophthalmic Surgery

Aspiring ophthalmologists are required to undergo a year focused on patient care in one of the following areas: family practice, internal medicine, neurology, pediatrics, emergency medicine, or general surgery. After finishing this, you will undergo intensive training focused on ophthalmology. Your training includes providing medical and surgical evaluation and treatment of the eyes and vision. Assessing for appropriate vision services such as glasses and contact lenses, providing medical treatments for eye disorders, and surgical procedures for correcting vision and eye problems are also expected throughout your residency period.

Orthopedic Surgery

There are two components to your 5-year postgraduate training for this specialty: 1 year for a broad-based training that is patient-related and 4 years under orthopedic surgery. Expect your residency to dwell more on anything involving the musculoskeletal system such as the bones, muscles, arteries, nerves, and joints. Most of your training will involve performing surgeries or using device assistance such as splits, braces, casts, and physical therapy for treating certain musculoskeletal conditions. After your residency, you can pursue a one to two years of fellowship for added credentials for special interest areas. Sub-specialties include sports medicine, spine surgery, trauma surgery, oncology, foot and ankle orthopedics, and joint replacement to name a few.

Pediatric Surgery

A pediatric surgery residency includes general surgery training and a minimum of 2 years of full-time education for a fellowship program for pediatrics. You will be handling patient care from diagnosis to post-operative care for any pediatric surgical conditions starting with newborns up to teenage years. You will likely collaborate with other specialty doctors such as family doctors, pediatricians, and neonatologists to come up with a solution involving surgery. Sub-specialties may include trauma, neonatal, pediatric oncology, and prenatal.

Other surgery residency specialties include neurological surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, otolaryngology, plastic and maxillofacial surgery, urology, and vascular surgery. Most of the residency periods for these specialties fall between 1 to 8 years with some requiring fellowship programs.