What are the different types of surgical disciplines available in the medical field?
A career as a medical surgeon can offer high levels of professional and emotional satisfaction. In addition, there is strong demand for specialized surgeons in the US and the rest of the world. Recent AAMC data suggests that there could be a projected shortage of up to 28,700 surgeons by the year 2033.
Although all medical students will initially do coursework in human anatomy and physiology, those students hoping to one day practice as surgeons will need more advanced and specialized study. There are many surgical specialties open to those interested in the field.
This blog details the top surgical disciplines as outlined by the American College of Surgeons.
1. General surgery
General surgeons possess an overall understanding of human anatomy, surgical procedures, and post-operative care. You can think of them as the GPs of surgical specialties.
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Most general surgeons work in trauma or emergency units, performing critical care surgeries depending on the patients’ medical conditions and requirements
2. Colon and rectal surgeon
Colon and rectal surgeons attend to surgical issues of the colon, rectum, perianal area and anal canal in the human body. Since these body parts also form a part of the gastric system, they are often called in to consult on surgical cases in gastroenterology.
Neurosurgeons are one of the most well-known critical care providers in any medical system. They are referred to in severe cases affecting the human nervous system. They routinely perform procedures and surgeries to treat conditions affecting the brain or the spine, such as brain tumors or intracranial aneurysms.
4. Critical care surgeon
Critical care surgeons focus solely on patients having life-threatening or acute surgical needs. They specialize in attending to conditions resulting from trauma such as infections, burns, or deep cuts.
In some cases, critical care surgeons are also called in to perform major surgeries like bronchoscopies, appendectomies, or exploratory surgeries.
5. Obstetrics and gynecology surgeon
Obstetric surgeons primarily work with surgical issues of the female reproductive system. They deal with pregnancy and fertility issues, ovarian cysts, STDs, menstruation cycle, or congenital abnormalities in the reproductive tract. Most often, they are responsible for performing cesarean procedures for delivering babies.
6. Orthopedic surgeon
Orthopedic surgeons are involved in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, and cartilages. They perform surgeries to treat bone deformities, breakage, trauma or metabolic disturbances.
7. Ophthalmic surgeon
Commonly referred to as ‘eye surgeons’, ophthalmic surgeons handle surgical care for human eyes and vision. They perform common surgeries for conditions like corneal dystrophies, cataract, amblyopia, glaucoma, macular degeneration, strabismus and retinal detachment.
8. Otolaryngologist or ENT surgeon
ENT surgeons surgically treat conditions associated with parts of the respiratory and upper alimentary system like ears, nose, and throat. They diagnose and treat disorders of a deviated septum, smell and taste disorders, ear infections or sinusitis.
They also perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries such as removal of polyps or correction of cleft palates.
9. Plastic surgeon
Contrary to popular opinion, plastic surgeons deal with more than just cosmetic corrections. They also handle many different reconstruction procedures including those for the musculoskeletal system.
Other popular surgical disciplines include thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical oncology and oral or maxillofacial surgery.
A comprehensive med school curriculum can help you gain exposure to different surgical departments during your clinical rotations. This can help you decide the surgical specialty that best suits your academic or career preferences.
Apply to the best medical schools in the USA and the Caribbean today to get started on your journey to become an accomplished surgeon.