Surgeon (general)

What they do

Surgeons operate on patients to treat diseases, repair injuries and improve body function and appearance. In addition to operating, surgeons also consult with patients, general practitioners and other medical professionals to decide on the best course of action and plan procedures.  They also check on their patients’ progress after an operation.  Research is also an important part of a surgeon’s job to ensure that they remain up-to-date about any new technologies and procedures.

Working conditions

Most surgeons work in private or public hospitals, although some may go into private practice. They generally work long hours, which may include evenings and weekend. Surgeons are also required to be on-call in case of an emergency.

Surgeons operate in theatre rooms and everything within there must be completely sterile and surgeons must also wear protective clothing.

Surgeons have a high level of contact with their patients and often the patients’ families. They also work closely with a range of other medical professionals, including general practitioners, nurses and anaesthetists.

Tools and technologies

Surgeons use a range of specialised surgical instruments when operating on patients including scalpels, clamps, saws and forceps.  They may also use equipment designed for keyhole surgery, allowing them to operate inside a patient without the need for a large incision. Patients are attached to sophisticated monitoring equipment during surgery to ensure that their vital signs, such as breathing and heart rate, are maintained. This equipment is overseen by surgeons and other medical staff.

Outside of the operating theatre, surgeons use technologies such as x-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans to assist in diagnosing patients and planning appropriate courses of action. They also use models of bones, muscles and joints to demonstrate problems and procedures to patients, and use as teaching tools for trainee doctors.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a general surgeon, you must first become a qualified medical doctor and then specialise in general surgery.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To then specialise in general surgery, you must register with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and undergo a training program at accredited hospitals, and ultimately receive fellowship.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).

Required registration and licensing

To work as a surgeon (general) in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.