Worldwide, many children and grown-ups want to enter the surgical industry. After all, surgery stands among careers that bring one of the highest salaries, even in Australia. This fact is shown by the report of the Australian Tax Office in 2019.
Other than its financial perks, surgery also inspires people. In their decades of studies and practice, surgeons perform life-saving procedures and complicated treatments.
It is no wonder why many medical drama shows and movies portray the exciting lives of surgeons. This career resembles an adventure where no one can expect what tomorrow may bring.
But you might be wondering, how long does it take to become a surgeon? We know how intense and challenging this career can be. But how much time do aspiring surgeons invest to realize this ambitious goal?
In this article, you will discover how many years it would take for someone to pursue the surgical field in Australia.
Studying in high school — six years
Secondary education deserves to be considered as well in the path towards a career in surgery. After all, according to the Australian government, all youth are required to attend school until they are 16 years old.
It is also in high school where teenagers realize the occupations and interests they want to pursue. Career Builder says that students also take their first steps towards their dream jobs.
In Australia, young students who want to be surgeons already take the science subject prerequisites available in high school.
Subjects like higher mathematics, biology, and chemistry can help them prepare for the medical field and maximize their studies.
During their high school years, the students can also participate in charities and leadership roles. Aspiring surgeons can even apply as volunteers in clinics, hospitals, and medical foundations.
Studying an undergraduate medical course — five to six years
After finishing year 12 and graduating from high school, aspiring surgeons will enter a medical school that offers an undergraduate course. They must meet the following requirements:
- The applicants must meet the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank required by the medical school. Those with a rank higher than 99 are accepted automatically.
- Those who want to enter such a course will take the Undergraduate Clinical Aptitude Test. To excel in this examination, they must prove their intelligence, reasoning, and judgment.
- They must ace the interview.
After passing these, the students will enter medical school to pursue an undergraduate medical course. In choosing, they consider the school’s prestige, the campus location, and the expenses of the program.
Those who fail to meet these requirements may try again, but it will cost them several months or even a year.
The successful applicants will spend the next five to six years in an undergraduate medical course.
An example of this is the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree available in certain Australian universities.
Students in programs like this will learn biomedical sciences, hospital care, and population health.
But there are medical schools that provide a shorter accelerated program on health and biomedical sciences. Lasting for two years, this is a quicker path towards a graduate medical degree.
Studying in a graduate medical school — four to six years
Once they complete the undergraduate level, the students will proceed to graduate medical school. But first, they must meet the requirements:
- The students must have a high score in the Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test. This test will examine their prowess in humanities, biology, chemistry, physics, and communication.
- Their grade point average or GPA should be high enough for the application.
- The applicants must prove themselves in the school interview as well.
Based on the students’ performance and their undergraduate degree, medical school students will study the graduate course for four to six years.
In these years, they will study the crucial knowledge and values they need as future doctors. The medical school will teach them the foundations of medical science, patient care, and treatments.
Internship — one year
Before finally becoming doctors, the medical school graduates will undergo an internship program. The Australian Medical Council and the Medical Board of Australia require at least 47 weeks of internship for graduates.
During this stage, the medical school graduates will perform hospital rounds, attend seminars, undergo training and simulation, and learn while working.
Supervisors will mark the interns’ progress and certify their completion after a year.
Residency — one to two years
Those who completed their internship after a year will be recommended to the Medical Board of Australia.
During the residency, they will gain more experience and train further in the hospital.
Surgical training — five to six years
After completing their residency, they can enter a surgical training program at last. At this point, the residents are already close to their dream careers.
Under the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, doctors will go through the Surgical Education and Training program. They will study surgery science and treatments in hospitals.
During their five to six years of education, surgical trainees may take surgical specializations early on. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons offers nine specializations:
- Cardiothoracic surgery
- General surgery
- Orthopedic surgery
- Head and neck surgery
- Pediatric surgery
- Plastic and reconstructive surgery
- Vascular surgery
Once they complete their training, these doctors will become Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
How many years do aspiring surgeons study?
The journey to becoming a surgeon in Australia is long. Excluding the six years of high school, aspiring surgeons may take an undergraduate medical course for five to six years.
Then, they will study in a graduate medical school for four to six years. Afterward, they will face internship for a year and residency for one to two years.
Once they become certified doctors, aspiring surgeons will study under the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for five to six years.
In Australia, those who want to become surgeons will study for sixteen to twenty-one years after Year 12. But their studies do not end there: surgeons further learn new surgical technologies and techniques to enhance their career and their patients’ lives.