Pursuing a career as a surgeon is a noble and rewarding path that holds tremendous significance in the field of healthcare. Surgeons perform intricate surgeries, making life-saving decisions and improving patients’ quality of life.


A surgeon is largely responsible for a patient’s pre-operative diagnostic, procedure, and post-operative surgical care and therapy. Pursuing a career as a surgeon can be thrilling as it enables you to change people’s lives with your skilled hands.


I will delve into the journey of becoming a surgeon and explore the steps that lead to success in this remarkable career.



Responsibilities of a Surgeon:

  1. Performing Surgeries: Surgeons are responsible for performing surgical procedures to treat medical conditions, injuries, or diseases. These surgeries can range from routine and minor procedures to complex and life-saving operations.
  2. Diagnosing and Evaluating Patients: Surgeons must assess patients’ medical conditions, review medical histories, and conduct physical examinations to determine the appropriate course of treatment, including whether surgery is necessary.
  3. Preoperative Preparation: Surgeons plan and prepare for surgeries, which includes reviewing medical records, ordering necessary tests and imaging, and obtaining informed consent from patients or their legal guardians.
  4. Intraoperative Management: During surgery, surgeons lead the surgical team, which may include nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals. They must demonstrate precision and skill while performing the procedure.
  5. Postoperative Care: After surgery, surgeons monitor patients’ recovery, prescribe medications, provide postoperative instructions, and manage potential complications.
  6. Continuing Education: Surgeons must stay current with advancements in surgical techniques, medical technology, and research to provide the best possible care to their patients.



Skills of a Surgeon:

  1. Medical Knowledge: Surgeons must have extensive knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and various medical conditions to diagnose and treat patients effectively.
  2. Surgical Skills: Surgeons need exceptional manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to perform intricate procedures with precision.
  3. Decision-Making: The ability to make quick and critical decisions is crucial in the fast-paced environment of surgery, especially when unexpected situations arise.
  4. Communication: Effective communication is essential to interact with patients, their families, and other members of the healthcare team, ensuring everyone is well-informed and involved in the patient’s care.
  5. Problem-Solving: Surgeons must be adept at identifying and solving complex medical problems, both during preoperative evaluation and during surgery.
  6. Leadership: As leaders of the surgical team, surgeons must demonstrate strong leadership skills, clear direction, and the ability to coordinate efforts for successful surgical outcomes.
  7. Adaptability: Surgical procedures can vary, and unexpected challenges may arise. Surgeons must be adaptable and able to adjust their approach as needed.
  8. Emotional Resilience: Surgeries can be emotionally challenging, particularly when dealing with high-stress situations or adverse outcomes. Surgeons need emotional resilience to cope with these aspects of their profession.
  9. Attention to Detail: Precision and meticulousness are vital in surgery to ensure successful outcomes and minimize the risk of complications.
  10. Professionalism: Surgeons must adhere to high ethical standards, maintain patient confidentiality, and display professionalism in all aspects of their work.


Areas of Specialisation in Surgery

  1. General Surgery: General surgeons are trained to perform a wide range of surgical procedures across multiple organ systems.
  2. Pediatric Surgery: Pediatric surgeons specialize in surgical procedures specifically tailored for infants, children, and adolescents.
  3. Neurosurgery: Neurosurgeons handle surgeries that deal nervous system such as the brain and spinal cord.
  4. Cardiothoracic Surgery: This specialization focuses on surgical procedures related to the heart, lungs, and other thoracic organs.
  5. Urology: Urologists specialize in the surgical treatment of conditions affecting the urinary tract system in both males and females.
  6. Obstetrics and Gynecology: This speciality deals with medical and surgical care for pregnant women as well as other concerns involving the fetus and female reproductive organs.
  7. Ophthalmic Surgery: This is a type of surgery that deals with the eye and eyesight.
  8. Orthopaedic Surgery: Orthopedic surgeons specialise in the musculoskeletal system which includes bones, muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.
  9. Otolaryngology: This is a type of surgery that deals with the ear, nose and throat.


Steps to Becoming a Surgeon

  1. Obtain your O’ level results:

    A minimum credit pass in subjects such as Mathematics, English, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics is required for admission to study Medicine.

  2. Register and write the JAMB exam:

    For better admission prospects, a JAMB score of 270 or higher is necessary.  Additionally, the university will assess your eligibility based on your cumulative score, comprising your JAMB score and POST UTME result. The essential core subjects are English, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics.

  3. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree:

    Apply to an accredited medical school in Nigeria to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS). This usually takes six years to study.

  4. Undergo an Internship:

    After earning your MBBS, you must do a one-year mandatory internship at a teaching hospital or a recognised medical institution.  Additionally, this internship offers diverse clinical experience and exposure to various aspects of patient care.

  5. Register with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN):

    Following the completion of your internship, you must register with the MDCN, Nigeria’s governing authority for medical and dental professionals. This registration is required in order to practise medicine in Nigeria.

  6. National Youth Service Corps (NYSC):

    Nigerian medical graduates serve for one year in the National Youth Service Corps program, providing healthcare to underserved areas across the country.

  7. Apply to a Postgraduate Medical Education:

    To become a surgeon, you must first complete postgraduate training in general surgery. This entails applying for a General Surgery residency programme in a reputable teaching hospital or specialised surgical centre. The residency programme normally lasts five to six years.

  8. Complete Residency Training:

    Residency training provides comprehensive academic and practical training in General Surgery. You will be working under the supervision of skilled surgeons, participating in surgical procedures, attending clinics, and conducting research.

  9. Obtain Fellowship:

    After residency, you can pursue a fellowship to specialize in a specific surgical field. This comprises fields such as Cardiothoracic Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Neurosurgery, Plastic Surgery, and Urology.

  10. Obtain Certification:

    After completing your residency and fellowship studies, you can seek certification from WACS or NPMCN. These are recognised bodies in Nigeria that certify specialised surgeons.

  11. Continuous Professional Development:

    As a surgeon, it is critical to pursue ongoing professional growth. Stay updated on advances in your surgical specialty by attending conferences, workshops, and seminars.

  12. Career Development and Practice:

    After certification, you can seek employment in hospitals, educational institutions, or establish a private practice. As you develop experience and skill, you may be able to assume leadership responsibilities or participate in research and teaching.


Salary of a Surgeon

The average salary of surgeons in Nigeria ranges from N400,000 to N1.5 million monthly. This can vary based on the level of experience of the surgeon and the place of work.


Pursuing a career as a surgeon can be challenging, demanding and requires years of training and active practice in medicine. However, this is one of the top-notch achievements in medicine and it comes with huge rewards. With great zeal and passion, you can explore this remarkable world of pursuing a career as a surgeon and excel.


Good luck.


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