What is a General Surgeon
A general surgeon is a physician who first completes 4 years of education in medical school. Typically after this training a physician completes a 1 year internship either in his or her desired field or in another field. Next comes 4 or 5 years of surgical residency. In the case of the general surgeon, this time in spent learning both the scientific basis for surgery and medicine, but also the day-to-day practicalities of patient care. For more details about the types of surgeries performed by a general surgeon, visit the Surgery Channel.
A general surgeon trains directly under many surgical attendings in many different areas of specialty. He or she learns both by observing but also by performing operations under the careful eye of the attending surgeon.
The general surgeon performs many operations in many fields before the completion of his residency; the last year is the chief resident year where she is in charge of the day-to-day running of the patients medical and surgical care and also in charge of the more junior residents. In this manner, the general surgeon learns both the science but also the human aspects of surgical care.
Other surgical specialties quickly branch off and narrow their area of surgical practice (for instance an ENT surgeon might only do 1 year of general surgery and a heart surgeon would complete a full 5 years of general surgical training). A general surgeon could still choose to do additional training in Intensive Care Medicine or in trauma surgery for example.
The general surgeon practices a broad range of surgeries depending mostly on his or her interest and training. In a large metropolitan area with many sub specialists available at every hospital the range of surgeries performed by the general surgeon would be limited.
However, the skill and broad training of the general surgeon provides a patient with a surgeon with experience in many areas: bowel and intestinal surgery, stomach and chest surgery, skin cancer surgery, breast cancer surgery and lymph node biopsy. Also the general surgeon may have received adequate training in vascular surgery to continue practicing this aspect of surgical care.
Frequently the general surgeon performs the highest number of surgeries at an institution and of course this keeps his surgical skills keen. Thyroid and parathyroid surgery are 2 areas that in a smaller institution away from the large city hospital, the general surgeon provides the comprehensive surgical care.
Complex wound care also falls under the guidance of the general surgeon due to his experience in complex wound care and surgical management.
While the specialist practices a just a few high-volume procedures to hone his or her surgical skills, the general surgeon performs many different procedures in a wide breadth of areas to keep a very diverse knowledge base sharp. Common sense, good bed side technique and a gentle surgical hand in critical.