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Trauma Surgeon: Requirements and Job Description for Starting a Career in Trauma Surgery

Majors Overview June 20, 2013

Trauma surgery is among the most demanding and intense forms of surgery. To become a trauma surgeon, an interested candidate must acquire an undergraduate degree, and complete four years of medical school along with many years of training in general surgery. Trauma surgeons need to be officially certified in order to handle the stress during emergency situations.

Trauma Surgeon Job Description

Trauma surgery encompasses the most blunt force, penetrating, life-threatening, and severe injuries. Trauma surgeon career involves operating on critical, and usually multiple injuries to various organ systems. They may operate on the following organs:

•Colon
•Stomach
•Spleen
•Pancreas

Trauma surgeons may also need to work with other surgeons with different specializations to help critically-injured patients achieve stability; these professionals are usually employed in the emergency care section of a medical center or hospital, in a high-stress and unpredictable work setting.

Career Prerequisites

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology Programs

Prospective trauma surgeons are expected to hold a bachelor degree in an area such as biology, pre-medicine, or a related scientific discipline. These four-year bachelor degree programs will provide students with the education base to enter medical school. Program course topics may include the following:

•Physics
•Chemistry
•Anatomy
•Biology

Doctor of Medicine Programs

As in the case of other aspiring doctors, prospective trauma surgeons are required to spend four years in medical school and complete a doctor of medicine (M.D.) program that combines classroom instruction with lab work. Coursework can range from microbiology to pharmacology, with two additional years of clinical clerkships that involve working with patients in real health care settings. After completing the program, candidates may seek licensure by taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination.

Medical Residency Programs

Aspiring trauma surgeons can use general surgery residencies to gain the broad surgical knowledge they would need to practice their profession that involves treatment of various types of injuries to every organ system. General surgery residencies commonly span three or more years and participants involve themselves in surgery rotations in cardiac and trauma surgery. Training on nutrition and patient care is also imparted.

Certification

Students who have completed the residency program and accrued enough required experience set by the American Board of Surgery (ABS – www.absurgery.org), which is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS – www.abms.org) that certifies surgeons, residents can take the General Surgery Qualifying Examination, followed by the General Surgery Certifying Examination. Individuals who successfully pass both exams will be qualified to take the Surgical Critical Care Certifying Examination in order to become certified in trauma surgery.

Trauma Fellowship Program

Once surgeons have completed their medical residencies, they can participate in one- to two-year fellowship programs in critical and trauma care. Trauma surgeons can leverage these programs to obtain additional training on supporting critical organs, such as the kidneys and lungs, apart from high risk procedures such as organ transplants. Fellows can gain advanced experience in assessing and managing patients in critical condition, while teaching staff and residents and completing clinical research in surgery.

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