Operating rooms around the world have seen surgeons save countless lives. Surgeons perform complicated operations that hail them as prestigious heroes with years of experience and training.
Surgeons conducting surgery in operating rooms—this is already a no-brainer. After all, this is how we see them in action inside hospitals and scenes on television shows.
But the field of surgery and its practitioners are far more diverse than what most people think. The hospital’s operating room is only one of the many settings where surgeons work.
In this article, you will know where surgeons can work. You will also learn the different settings where surgeons operate to save lives.
How do we broadly classify surgical settings?
It is costly and time-consuming to become a surgeon. Because of this, the demand for surgeons worldwide is high.
Employment is not a concern for accredited surgeons, and they can work in different settings expecting remarkable compensation.
Surgeons usually work in clinical settings. These are places where we expect to find them: at hospitals, surgical centres, clinics, physicians’ offices.
But surgeons can practice in non-clinical settings, such as government institutions, universities, charity organizations, insurance firms, and similar services.
What are the primary settings for surgeons?
The American College of Surgeons, one of the most prestigious and respected surgical institutions globally, defined the environments where surgeons may work. After all, surgery is multifaceted.
Surgeons can execute their skills depending on where they work. However, no matter where they are, surgeons are expected to fulfil the same roles: diagnose patients, operate, provide postoperative care, and show leadership.
Here are the primary settings for surgeons as enumerated by the American College of Surgeons:
Ambulatory surgery settings
Ambulatory surgery does not require patients to stay overnight at the facility. For this reason, it is also called outpatient surgery and same-day surgery.
Surgeons working in ambulatory settings have the opportunity to perform various operations. This setting allows surgeons to refine their surgical skills through quicker and simpler treatments.
Whether in hospitals, clinics, and surgical facilities, ambulatory surgery may happen in the surgeon’s office, a dedicated department, or an independent establishment.
As ambulatory surgery grows in popularity, many surgeons with sub-specializations offer quick operations for what used to be complex surgeries. These include laparoscopy, cataract surgery, and hernia repair.
Surgeons who work in an academic setting not only take care of patients: they also teach and research surgery. Such surgeons also practice at universities, medical schools, and research institutions.
Academic surgeons develop innovations in surgery, search for scientific breakthroughs, perform clinical investigations, and experiment with new treatments in the field.
Because of the academic nature of their work, these surgeons practice at high-ranking hospitals which cater to patients with uncommon disorders. Academic surgeons also treat a vast spectrum of cases.
As a part of the research community and medical school faculty, academic surgeons teach and train future physicians and surgeons.
In private practice, surgeons do not perform in a hospital or facility. Because of this, they are freer to choose their schedule, workplace, patients, and team.
Surgeons in private practice focus on specific patients, so they form long-term relationships with one another. This type of setting requires stronger professional relations, management skills, and responsibilities.
Institutional practice and hospitals
Institutional practice is the mainstream setting for most surgeons. Unlike those in private practice, surgeons here work at a specific hospital or clinic.
Surgeons in institutional practice work full-time, but they can also research patient treatment. Working in hospitals and clinics means that they do not know what cases to expect and sicknesses to treat.
Surgeons in this setting spend much of their time in the operating room, standing for several hours. They also perform hospital rounds and patient visitations. When they are at the office, surgeons conduct consultations.
In this setting, surgeons also consider the reputation of the hospital and their career prospects there. They must observe the rules and regulations of the hospital, including the administrative and insurance policies there.
The institutional practice offers benefits that surgeons in private care might find tenuous. Hospitals and clinics handle the paperwork for the surgeons; this includes malpractice insurance, savings programs, and other programs.
Surgeons in hospitals can also learn the latest technologies and innovations in surgery since they work with colleagues with different experiences.
The hospital also provides tools, machines, and equipment that those in private practice cannot afford.
But the primary drawback of institutional practice is the restriction in their schedule. Surgeons here have less freedom to choose their vacation time and work schedules.
Even during their day off, surgeons in institutional practice rush to the hospital during emergencies.
Surgeons can also work for the government. In Australia, a surgeon may contribute to the Department of Health and its agencies, such as:
- The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare;
- The National Health and Medical Research Council;
- The state governments’ departments of health.
While working for the government, surgeons may provide surgical treatment and care for unprivileged patients, especially Aboriginal people in remote areas.
They can even participate in the World Health Organization’s global humanitarian efforts.
Surgeons in Australia may join the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, the medical practitioners who serve in the military. They take care of the soldiers, service train, and strengthen the members of the armed forces.
Practising in uniformed services can perform surgeries during humanitarian operations, disaster relief, overseas assignments, and different environments.
Surgeons in the military also treat patients from different backgrounds and cultures, from soldiers to refugees to battle casualties. They also help train and treat soldiers by providing necessary surgeries and primary health care.
Defence Jobs Australia, the official recruitment website of the Australian army, lists the benefits of being a general surgeon in uniformed services.
First, imagine earning $878 every day—this is the compensation rate for surgeons in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps!
Other than the financial rewards, surgeons in the army enjoy medical and dental benefits, exposure to advanced technology, housing assistance, and career mobility.