A Look at a Career in Surgery

A surgical career can be extremely rewarding. Anyone who is determined, enthusiastic and has an aptitude to succeed can have a successful career in surgery, no matter their background, gender or ethnicity. Furthermore, surgery provides a huge variety of clinical experiences, which combine to offer a rewarding career experience.

Dr Adam Alexander
Dr Adam Alexander

Surgical Specialities

There are many different types of surgical speciality. These include general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, otolaryngology (ENT), paediatric surgery, plastic surgery, trauma and orthopaedic surgery, urology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, vascular surgery and academic surgery. The latter role involves some clinical work combined with some teaching or research in a higher education setting.

Entry Requirements and Training

It takes a significant amount of time to become a skilful surgeon like Dr Adam Alexander, and the field is a competitive one. Although there are several different pathways into a surgical career; the most common training route starts with attending medical school for five to six years followed by two years of foundation training. After this, a would-be surgeon will spend two years undertaking core surgical training, which is a paid role in a hospital setting, with rotations covering a variety of surgical specialties.

Next comes around six years of specialty training. Once this has been completed, the prospective surgeon will be eligible to sit the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) examination. This is a mandatory requirement in order for a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) or Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) to be awarded.

Once a surgeon has attained a CCT or CESR their details will be added to the GMC’s specialist register. From then on, they are eligible to apply for a fellowship for further and more specialised training or a consultant post.

Dr Adam Alexander
Dr Adam Alexander

What Is Plastic Surgery?

There are two types of plastic surgery. Reconstructive plastic surgery is about restoring appearance and function to the human body following an accident or injury, while aesthetic (also termed ‘cosmetic’) surgery is undertaken to change the appearance by choice.

The majority of the work carried out by most plastic surgeons is reconstructive. This covers all aspects of reconstruction and wound healing after acquired, congenital and traumatic problems. Aesthetic surgery tends to be a much smaller part of a surgeon’s weekly workload.

Plastic surgery subspecialties include congenital, breast surgery, skin, trauma, cancer, hand and upper limb surgery, and (as discussed above) aesthetic. There are some common conditions that necessitate plastic surgery, including chronic wounds such as pressure sores, the reconstruction of large defects, the results of serious infections, and venous and other leg ulcers.

The Main Techniques Used in Plastic Surgery

Today, reconstructive surgery consists of a range of innovative procedures that involve the movement of tissue around the body. These include skin grafts, which entail removing a healthy patch of skin from a ‘donor site’ on the patient’s body and using it to cover the area where the skin is missing or damaged, and tissue expansion, which enables the body to effectively ‘grow’ the extra skin needed via the stretching of surrounding tissue.

Flap surgery is used to transfer a piece of living tissue, as well as the blood vessel keeping it alive, from one area of the body to another. Unlike skin grafts, these flaps have their own blood supply, so they can be used to repair defects that are more complex.

Microsurgery uses very small sutures and magnification to join tiny veins, nerves and arteries, restoring the vital nerve or blood supply to a section of living tissue. This technique has marked a significant advance in plastic surgery in recent decades as it allows a surgeon to move tissue from a different part of the same body, thereby restoring life to the transplanted tissue. This means that healing can begin immediately.

Dr Adam Alexander
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