American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals
5 years ago

I need help

I am a 16 year old student and I am looking forward to work in the medical field and I am working on a assignment for my EMS class about what I would like to have as my specialty in the future. I’ve been looking for real surgeons to ask because I have a few questions.

What are the classes you had to take in order to go to surgery school?

How long is the whole process to become a surgeon?

Procedure: Liposuction
Location: north white plains, NY

Replies 6

Daniel Careaga
ASPS Surgeon

Hey Jason,

So firstly, there really is no thing as “surgery school”. Every doctor starts out by going to medical school which in the US is usually four years. There are two ways to become a plastic suregon: 1) you can do what is called an integrated program where you get accepted from the time you are in med school. You do a combination of about 3 years of general surgery and 3 years of plastic surgery or 2) you apply to a surgery residency from medical school which is 5 years and then a plastic surgery residency which is 3 years. So the whole process from beginning to end takes about 12 years after colleges. I know that sounds like a lot but residency, despite being hard work, is a lot of fun. We surgeons have very high job satisfaction rates and ultimately you want to look forward to going to work everyday and love what you do. It’s a long road and you have to work hard because surgical residencies are very competitive. Good luck!

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Susan Buenaventura
ASPS Surgeon
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Hello Jason. I think it is wonderful that you are considering being a physician and surgeon as a career. Becoming a surgeon requires 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, then 5-8 years of surgical training in residency and /or fellowships. For plastic surgery it is 6-8 years of surgical training. So it can be 15 years of education after high school but if you are doing what you love, it is worth it!

In college, no particular major is required, but you need a year of Chemistry, Calculus, Biology, Physics, and Organic Chemistry. You also must score well on the MCAT exam which you take in your junior or senior year of college.

Being a surgeon and physician is a privilege and an honor. Though it requires hard work and dedication, if it is what you want don't let anything stand in your way! Good luck to you.

Dr. Susan Buenaventura

Jon Ver Halen

Dear Jason,

Hello and thank you for your excellent question. For me, it took 4 years of high school, 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 6 years of residency before I completed my training. Biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry are all requirements for most medical schools. If you have any questions, call our office for assistance. Good luck!

Nelson Castillo

Thank you for sharing your excellent question. Becoming a medical doctor and a surgeon is one of the most rewarding experiences in my life but it comes at a lengthy training process. After 4 years of college and a number of entrance exams, most will pursue 4 years of medical school, then 5-8 years of surgical training in residency and /or fellowships. There are abbreviated tracks in some of the surgery specialties, like plastics that can reduce the 8 year training period to 6.

Typical college classes required for medical school application include Chemistry, Calculus, Biology, Physics, and Organic Chemistry. Hope this helps.

Tracy McCall
ASPS Surgeon

I am glad to hear that you want to work in the medical field. I hope that you will consider being a surgeon. I would recommend speaking with your guidance counselor or getting a college coach at this point. They will help you figure out what classes you need to take. You should be taking a very science-heavy curriculum. You will need to go to college and major in something like biology that will give you all the prerequisites for medical school. You take a very important exam, the MCAT, and those scores will be sent to the schools. You then do 4 years in medical school. The first two years are usually in the classroom and the last 2 are clinical rotations where you help to care for patients and learn parts of different fields. During the last part of medical school you make a decision on which specialty you wish to pursue. All doctors go to medical school. We specialize in residency programs. You will spend long hours caring for patients under the supervision of professors.

Gregory Dowbak
ASPS Surgeon

16 years old? Way too young to be concerned about this. Just enjoy being a 16 year old, you will be operating for the rest of your life. Some suggestions: 1) learn 3 languages well (English, Spanish and one of following:,Russian, Chinese, Arabic), 2) read the great books 3) volunteer in your community, 4) serve your country (US Navy or US Marines Reserve) 5) visit other cultures 6) read newspapers from around the world 7) go to good college that has medical school 8) find your own way to becoming a surgeon 9) take the path least traveled 10) Always stand up for what is right even at great cost. Good Luck!


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