Before choosing a career in surgery, read this exclusive and complete guide to become a surgeon in India with interesting facts about this ever-evolving medical field!
The History of Surgery
The history of medicine stems from the Egyptians who practiced surgery as early as 1600 B.C. The Papyrus scrolls, which is one of the most extensive documentation of Egyptian culture and developments, describes the splinting of fractures in human subjects and the care-taking process of the wounded. Hippocrates (400 B.C.), commonly described as “The father of medicine,” wrote numerous books on surgery, including the method of treating head injuries.
The Hippocratic Oath, which is a pledge that many medical students take when they become doctors and is commonly believed to include the phrase, “first, do no harm,” which also has its roots in early Greek medicinal culture.
Why Should You Choose to Become a Surgeon in India?
With around 30,000 medical graduates annually in India, the pharmaceutical sector has seen a saturation of qualified professionals duking it for a decent position in a reputed hospital.
The health-care sector in India, the world’s second-most populous country in the world with more than 1.36 billion residents, has only expanded following post-independence. These expansion numbers have primarily been the case since the 1990s era of post-liberalization, which saw private capital heading to the development of the health-care sector.
The total number of registered medical colleges has also soared from 86 colleges back in 1965 to 539 as in 2019; Annually, 30,000 medical graduates are produced every year, current projections suggest there will be 1,493,385 registered doctors in India in 2024, which would adhere the WHO-recommended doctor-patient ratio of one doctor per 1,000 individuals.
However, despite this rapid expansion, the concentration of medical professionals and health services remains a challenge as they are mostly concentrated and based out of urban areas where two-thirds of the population is still concentrated in rural areas where they are not able to access these services and professionals.
Role of a Surgeon
A surgeon is a specialist who operates on patients to repair their abnormalities and injuries; they also aid in rehabilitating recovering patients. They also can specialize further in specific areas such as neurological, orthopedic, and cardiothoracic fields. As technology has advanced, surgeons can now perform complex procedures, and advancement has also minimized their efforts and improve their efficiency by incorporating new technologies such as new digital imaging tech, lasers, and scopes into their practices.
They are also reaching new frontiers with the introduction of 3D printed implants, which have become excellent substitutes for faulty or lost organs. These artificially made organs blend layers of living cells and plastic for offering durability and organic features. There has been notable progress in technology in the field of surgery, aiming to reduce errors in judgment. With technology securing its way in this field, medicine has become a cutting-edge space with sophisticated technology and possibilities.
The role of a competent surgeon is to be well adept with contemporary practices and the ability to adapt to demanding situations. They also should possess the ability to work with modern technology, and with a specialization such as Reconstructive Surgery, surgeons have zero margins for error with their toes to deliver around the clock.
Opportunities for Surgeons
Surgeons have opportunities both in the public and private sectors. However, sub-specialized doctors are sought after by individual hospital chains such as Apollo, Fortis Narayana, and Max Healthcare, to name a few. Government hospitals are situated all over the country both in rural and urban areas; however, rural areas lack the technologies that might hinder their capabilities.
Junior surgeons tend to work their way up the ranks by working on the recommendations under other tenured surgeons during their internship days. Most hospitals prefer doctors belonging to the home-state who are usually hired on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Besides working as a government doctor also has some perks such as the position of a gazetted Officer with better job security and pay in some cases. It is to be noted that the government always recruits the best of the bunch for its top government hospitals, so getting in might be more competitive than private hospitals.
Surgeons also have the opportunity to serve in the military; however, this opportunity poses a role with more risks, but nothing is nobler than helping people who guard our nation. Military surgeons are also assigned to many calamity related cases across the country, so no two days will be the same. They can also be called upon to serve other countries that need assistance serving under the UN flag to help particular backward areas.
Apart from this, surgeons always have the option to open their clinics if they are inclined to do so. Working privately also grants them the opportunity to visit private clinics as a visiting surgeon and consult on other procedures.
Skills That Contribute to a Good Surgeon
Successful surgeons tend to display distinct attributes which aid them in their successful career. Although becoming a surgeon in itself is a landmark feat that requires determination, excellence, and pre-service, becoming a successful one is much more. Now let us look at some of these skills that make them an excellent surgeon without which a job in surgery may prove unrewarding and ultimately challenging to any individual.
In addition to the attributes mentioned earlier, such as problem-solving, the ability to think on your feet, and being dynamic, one must also manage the following:
- Being able to manage and keep a clear head in a crisis and emergencies where time is of the essence.
- Surgeries are complex procedures and not for the faint of heart, and one must be willing to endure long and grueling hours to complete said processes.
- Concentration is key. Working with extended periods of absolute focus without breaks is tiresome, and one must be mentally conditioned to endure that.
- Patience, Dexterity, and coordination are vital elements while working with your mind and your hands.
You must also possess:
- Regard and reverence for life and service: Throughout a surgeon’s career, they will meet and treat many individuals. One must not develop any prejudice or partiality towards individuals. The profession will also provide a comfortable lifestyle.
- One must not let this alter their perception of service to others and stay grounded at all times. This factor is critical to ensuring proper care without which you will indefinitely lose trust and goodwill with the patients.
- A dynamic and broad mindset: Adopting new technologies, responding to demanding situations, thinking on your feet, and solving complexities during the surgical process are essential for an excellent surgeon.
- Excellent knowledge of anatomy: An excellent foundation for surgery is a thorough knowledge of anatomy.
- Intelligence. This fact comes without saying. You have to be the cream of the crop even to attempt to become a surgeon. If you are not considered as a bright student or struggle with some specific area of studies, surgery might not be for you.
Surgeons typically have the following responsibilities:
- To analyze and understand a patient’s medical condition and history if any
- Communicate with the patient and address or answer concerns that patients have about their well-being and general health
- Prescribe applicable tests and examinations to understand the root cause for the state of the patient
- Review and analyze the test results to ascertain or identify any findings
- Covey the updated condition of the patient and provide the information to support the current findings
- Design and recommend a treatment to solve the condition
- Help them with their recovery by following up, review, and help patients take care of their health as required
Who Is Eligible to Apply?
If you seek to be a surgeon, the first step is an MBBS degree from any university that is recognized by the Indian Medical Council (MCI). Followed by an MS degree in General Surgery is the essential requirement to practice as a surgeon.
Here are some of the specializations one can opt for:
- General Surgery
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Traumatology and Surgery
For those who wish to further subspecialize, any subject such as plastic surgery, cardiothoracic, and urology, one needs an MCh degree with any subspecialty from an institute approved by the MCI. It has a duration of 3 years, and all candidates who pursue MCh are full-time residents during the undertaken training period.
Some of the entrance exams for MS are as follows:
- NEET PG
- UP PGMEE
Steps to Become a Surgeon in India
- Step 1: If you are a school student looking to become a surgeon, here is the pathway to becoming one. Candidates should first start with clearing their Plus two or equivalent studies with the subjects Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
- Step 2: Clear the NEET-UG examination after which, they should qualify for the MBBS course.
- Step 3: Obtain an MBBS degree upon completion of 4.5 years of the course study and one year of mandatory internship as a junior doctor.
- Step 4: Clear NEET PG, after which candidates can apply for an MS degree in General Surgery (MS) at any institute that is approved by the Medical Council of India. It is generally a three-year full-time postgraduate course.
- Step 5: Furthermore, as an option, if the candidate is interested, they can also specialize in any field of their choice once they clear the entrance test conducted for admission to a super specialty course.
- Alternative Step: Besides all the above options, there is an alternative to MS degree, Membership of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons (MRCS). After MBBS, MRCS would be the direct and easiest pathway to become a surgeon in India.
MRCS Vs. PLAB
There is much misconception regarding the MRCS and Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) exams; people often get them confused and compare them directly to let us clear the misunderstandings. MRCS is a two-step intercollegiate examination conducted for surgical trainees to become qualified members of Royal Colleges of Surgeons, UK.
On the other hand, PLAB examination is a medical licensing assessment (MLA) mandatory for practitioners to clear if they wish to practice or pursue higher education in the UK one is a qualification while other is a licensing exam.
Surgical medical education and practice require quality candidates as surgeons protect patients and improve their lives PLAB improve medical education by bringing in qualified students from foreign countries. Students and doctors often work together to improve on the understanding of a patient’s issue.
Doctors opt to do masters of surgery to become a general surgeon here in India. Master of Surgery (MS) is a postgraduate course that one has to graduate to become a qualified practicing surgeon in India. Other exams are not applicable to practice in India. Royal College, UK, conducts the MRCS exam that qualifies doctors with a master of surgery. It is recognized and accepted by the medical councils of many countries, including India.
Various Disciplines in the Field of Surgery
The Indian Medical Council recognizes multiple surgical specialties. As you consider the type of specialization that is best for you, it’s helpful to review your available options.
General surgery is the most straightforward of the bunch dealing with the study of surgical procedures, including almost any section of the body. In general, surgery is subspecialties that comprise the following:
- Proctology: Deals with diagnosing and treating disorders related to colon and rectum disorders such as pelvic floor syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and even colorectal cancer.
- Otolaryngology: Deals with the disorders related to the Ear, Nose, and throat (ENT) within the human respiratory system.
- Dental surgery Deals with the treatment associated with the mouth, teeth, throat, jaw, and the facial skeletal structure of the body.
- Neurosurgery: is the most demanding and critical subspecialty of all, which deals with the disorders involving the brain and the spinal cord.
- Obstetrics and gynecology: focus on providing medical and surgical care for pregnant patients.
- Ophthalmic surgery: Provides care for diseases and disorders related to the eye and contents of the eye socket.
- Orthopedic surgery: Are a broad area that involves anything and everything related to the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, and muscles.
Surgeons have high standards and take action on abnormalities in patients to improve their lives significantly. Surgeons work with their patients and improve medical treatment based on the feedback. Super-subspecialties of orthopedics include the following:
- Oncology – treatment for malignant and benign tumors of the muscular system of the human body.
- Joint replacement – Focuses on mostly the knees, elbows, and hips but can also include the shoulders and ankles.
- Pediatrics – Deals with the orthopedic ailments in children
- Spine – Manages the Diagnostics, treatment, and care of spinal related problems.
- Sports – Centers around patients suffering from athletic injuries caused due to sports.
- Trauma – Trauma care is closely related to orthopedics and is a developing field. Patients are often individuals with severe or complicated injuries to the muscular and skeletal system of the body.
- Pediatric surgery – Provides surgical care focused on children (Including teens). There are copious super-subspecialties within this area.
- Prenatal – Fetal care
- Neonatal – Focuses on caring for the newborns
- Trauma – Because children are more likely to be careless and get themselves hurt, Pediatric surgeons are significantly in demand and continuously face circumstances regarding traumatic injuries suffered by children.
- Oncology – Focuses on treating Benign growths and malignant tumors.
- Plastic and maxillofacial surgery – Involves cosmetic repair procedures and the reconstruction of body parts after accidental tissue losses.
- Thoracic surgery – Concerns with the heart, throat, lungs, and generally anything in the chest area.
- Urology – manages malignant and benign surgical and medical disorders related to the adrenal gland and also the genitourinary system for both females and male patients.
- Vascular surgery – Treats diseases affecting the veins and arteries throughout the entire human body. Hardening of the arteries may be the most well-known problem that vascular surgeons operate.
These sub-specialties support them in achieving treating patients in the required areas.
Pros and Cons of Being a Surgeon
- As a surgeon, you will also serve as a caretaker of your patients. Helping people recover for a potentially life-altering situation is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things one can undertake.
- Unlike traditional medical roles, the role of a surgeon is always ever-evolving and dynamic. No two days are the same in the life of a surgeon, and one goes on a journey of development and transformation if they choose the career of a surgeon.
- Surgery involves the utilization of cutting-edge technologies and making discoveries. A surgeon never stops learning and updating themselves; they are always looking to evolve their methods to help other people. Not many roles in the medical field can boast of this type of innovation and individualistic contribution to change and growth.
- The sky’s the limit when it comes to specialization. One can spend a lifetime sharpening their skills and knowledge, specializing in a particular area(s) if they choose to do so.
- Surgeons are a class apart when it comes to the responsibility they make or break a case, and as a result, they are respected both professionally and publicly by any and everyone they come across.
- Being a surgeon brings out your communication skills, empathy, technical skills, and knowledge. You have to do it all, which leads you to a well-rounded personality. You will know and work with patients inside and out quite literally.
- The cost of becoming a surgeon is expensive; generally, the schooling fee for this particular stream is very high unless you get into a Government College. While pursuing this course also doesn’t guarantee you a job until you procure a license and gain a considerable amount of experience to build your reputation and practice your skills.
- This role is high risk and requires you to be vigilant 27*7 as you will be on call most of the time. Wherein every day, you have to deal with patients and also their kins. You have to sacrifice much time by spending long hours in the operation theatre working on your patients.
- Surgeons end up mostly studying for at least 15 years, which also is accompanied by long working hours.
- Generally, government hospitals in India’s rural parts are some of the gravest places to work where the staff are often undertrained and underpaid, not to mention the lack of thereof plus the upkeep of the facilities is reported to up to the required standards.
- A surgeon has to deal with various kinds of people with varied mentalities, which takes a toll on your mental health and can sometimes be an arduous task.
Prospects of a Surgeon
Goodwill is a vital factor for any surgeon when working with a criticality of this magnitude; you will be judged based on your success. The more successful experience under your belt, the better. Another area where surgeons can distinguish themselves is the adoption of technology to perform surgeries with the aid of robots, and other tools will boost your value and make you an asset to your organization.
Specialization is obviously also an important factor that will boost your standing among others, choose carefully, though, as every specialty costs money and, more importantly, time. Moving to semi-urban areas is also a great way to improve your prospects with the fast development, one can expect more hospitals to pop up in these areas to attract more patients from surrounding rural areas.
Future of Surgery
As we have discussed, medical science is ever-evolving, and surgery is the breeding ground for innovation and cutting-edge development. Researchers and Doctors are continually examining and experimenting with ways to reduce procedural risks, causes of infection, pain, and healing time.
There are two types of surgeries on the leading edge of medicine.
- Robotic Surgery
Image source: ZDNet
Robotic surgery is quickly becoming a common way of conducting a critical operation as some specialists are in high demand across the country. In the process of robotic surgery, the robotic arms are linked to a terminal where a doctor can access it. He/she uses it with the aid of a video camera and aids other surgeons and technicians to complete complex surgeries with his/her expertise.
Some machines offer probe cameras that directly look inside the patient’s body to assess and identify areas of concern. Unlike traditional surgical processes, this is much more efficient at aiding the surgeons to complete the procedure successfully. It also helps reduce the recovery time by targeting and working with only parts of the areas that need addressing. As technology advances, further doctors and surgeons perform complex surgical procedures to various patients worldwide, providing them with many opportunities.
- Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Image Source: medgadget
Tissue engineering has its origins in Biomaterials; it refers to combining cells, scaffolds, and biologically productive molecules into operative tissues. On the other hand, regenerative medicine is a broad field that includes tissue engineering and incorporates research on self-healing or with the help of foreign biological material to recreate cells and rebuild tissues and organs.
Although either of the approaches doesn’t play a significant role in treatment yet, it can fundamentally transform how the surgery is approached when explored and developed further. Already medical scientists have successfully experimented in growing specific tissue types from the host patient’s cells, thereby circumventing the danger of rejection.
The Federal Drug Administration of the USA (FDA) has already approved the use of artificial skin and cartilage, although their effectiveness in patients is limited. The dream of a synthetic growth organ, such as a kidney, heart, lungs, and pancreas from a patient’s cells, appears to be just on the horizon.
Texila American University (TAU), in alliance with the University of Central Nicaragua (UCN), offers a Master of Surgery fellowship program that is created specifically for doctors to develop on their existing knowledge, skills, and experience and advance clinical and service expertise in the features of diverse specializations. TAU has devised a curriculum with both theoretical and clinical elements to encourage and nurture students.
Accompanying this fellowship program, TAU also offers concentrated education to take up the corresponding Royal College, UK, exams. If you seek to become a General Surgeon, primarily through MRCS, this fellowship program will assist you in getting the needed training to clear the MRCS exam.
Why Should Your Choose Texila American University to Become a Surgeon in India?
- Royal College-based standard curriculum
- Dedicated academic coordinators for assistance
- Free access to online learning materials and membership
- Interactive session and webinars
Some Salient Features of our Program
- Affordable fee & flexible payment
- Hospital-based teaching by senior Royal College-certified Program Consultant
- Rotations in departments as per Royal College standard
- valuable learning materials
- Weekly Lecture sessions by Royal College-certified faculty
- Membership access from Royal College, UK
With this article, we believe that you will have a complete understanding of the elements regarding General Surgeons and the steps associated with becoming a General Surgeon in India. Good luck!