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General Surgery

Why should you choose Surgery ?

HST Co-ordinator Mr. J. Debono


Whilst other specialities tend to treat and control, Surgery is the ultimate cure. Although General Surgery is very rigorous specialty that is considered amongst the most physical and psychologically demanding, it is also one of the most gratifying and fulfilling paths a doctor can take on the road to healing people.

The road towards becoming a surgeon is long but there is now a plethora of choices of specialities from which to choose from.


1. It is very exacting speciality in a fast-paced and high-energy environment suitable for doctors who are passionate about their work.

2. it is the place to experience instant gratification- what is more satisfying than seeing a patient coming in with a life-threatening problem going home a few days later completely cured?

3. It allows doctors to use not just their minds, but also their hands in creating an immediate curative effect. Other specialities are trying to experience this- gastroenterologists doing therapeutic endoscopies, cardiologists putting in stents, radiologists doing interventional procedures.

4. It gives the opportunity to work with advanced medical technology that is advancing at a very fast pace such as laparoscopic and robotic surgery. Additionally, new techniques and equipment enter the field all the time - surgery can never become boring or old.

5. Training in surgery is also unique in that much of the learning takes place without classrooms or textbooks, working closely with experienced surgeons giving the experience, visual aids such as videos and websites showing the latest techniques and journals to update on the knowledge that is constantly changing.


Training starts following the foundation years when a trainee is chosen by interview to enter the basic surgical training program. This is a minimum of 2 years where the trainee gets to experience a variety of specialities in general surgery and also work in a general surgical unit. As a BST one will have to exhibit fierce dedication and hard work. These are the formative years where one acquires the basic skills, learns how to look after a surgical patient and gets tasters of different specialities before choosing the one that would suit them best. Despite the high demands, many surgeons look back upon these years as some of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Completion of BST also entails obtaining the MRCS.

Higher surgical training follows with a minimum requirement of 6 years. These can be done straight away in a speciality such as Urology, ENT, Ophthalmology, Accident and Emergency or in General Surgery. In the latter years of the training in General Surgery one might chose a speciality interest such as colorectal, upper GI, hepato-biliary, vascular etc.

Completion of HST training also necessitates an exit exam.

Once CCST is awarded the surgeon is then a specialist. Although locally Consultant posts are difficult to come by, a recognised specialist can apply for posts anywhere in the EU. A specialist can also work in hospital as a resident specialist and is also able to work privately independently.

Academic training is encouraged in surgery. With additional academic qualifications one would be in a better position to get jobs. As an academic surgeon, one is more likely to develop a particular area of expertise. This can also lead to travelling to lecture at a number of institutions and conferences. A very small percentage of surgeons leave clinical practice to apply their skills in industry, particularly in technological design of next generation surgical equipment and instruments.

Academic and industrial career options become more attractive as manual dexterity decreases with age, making complex procedures more difficult to perform. They also provide a means of continuing to use hard-earned experience while getting away from a high stress environment.


A surgeon's work begins well before scrubbing. Surgeons are often first called upon to provide consultations for challenging cases or to provide assistance by placing chest tubes or inserting a difficult line, catheter or feeding tube. Communications with other disciplines is essential for the well-being of the patient.

Additionally, a surgeon has to advise and consent patients considering undergoing a surgical procedure. A surgeon must be versed in the condition, the patient's medical history, and be familiar with the patient on a more personal level. Many patients fear even the simplest surgical procedures, such as a hernia, and that fear must be handled delicately and with compassion by the surgeon being completely trusted to cut into the patient's body. Other procedures such as mastectomies have a more profound impact and a surgeon must be prepared to address concerns that lie far outside the walls of the operating theatre.


With continuing advances in the general surgery field, the career is not a static one, a general surgeon's training never ends. Riding the leading edge of medical care is both exciting and rewarding.

Nothing, however, makes the years of hard work and dedication in the general surgery more worthwhile than the indescribable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction derived from directly and immediately affecting the life of a patient in a positive way.

General Surgery Training Programme

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