General Surgery involves managing patients with a wide variety of conditions that require treatment with surgery. A general surgeon will subspecialise.
The Royal Society of Medicine offers a range of events for different surgical specialties, including General Surgery – see a full list on our Events page>>
Wondering what it’s like to be a General Surgery Registrar? Read Ross’ A Day in the Life…
Read more about what general surgery is like
Entry Route into General Surgery
Applicants must complete the two-year Foundation Programme before they are eligible to apply for core training in surgery. Core training takes two years (CT1-2) and during this time trainees must pass the examinations for Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS).
Job Progression as a General Surgeon
Following core training, trainees can apply for higher speciality training that takes between six and eight years (ST3-8) to complete. Applicants for ST3 posts need to have completed at least 24 months of experience in surgery, excluding foundation modules, and at least 12 months should be spent working in both elective general surgery, and working on-call for general surgical emergencies. Trainees must complete the MRCS examinations during higher speciality training.
Sub-specialties in general surgery include
- breast surgery,
- endocrine surgery,
- lower gastrointestinal surgery,
- upper gastrointestinal surgery, and
- transplant surgery.
Trainees can apply for consultant positions six months before obtaining their CCT, and there are opportunities to work in management as a clinical lead, or a clinical or medical director. There are also formal opportunities to become involved in the education and training of junior doctors by working as
- a director of medical education overseeing postgraduate medical training,
- a training programme director responsible for the education of trainee doctors in the local region, or
- an associate dean responsible for managing the training programme.
Academic General Surgery Roles
Trainees interested in an academic career can apply for an academic clinical fellowship. Alternatively, trainees can continue the ST clinical training programme after ST4 level.
Competition for General Surgery Roles
In 2017, the competition ratio at ST3 was 1.48, with 350 applications for 236 posts. The competition ratio for Core Surgical Training was 2.56, with 1,608 applications for 629 posts.
In December 2017, there were
- 2,359 consultants,
- 151 associate specialists,
- 363 speciality doctors,
- 20 staff grades,
- 1,611 speciality registrars,
- 657 core trainees,
- 361 F2 trainees, and
- 1,463 F1 trainees.
Salaries in General Surgery
The starting salary for junior doctors in England ranges from £26,614 to £46,208, and from £37,923 to £87,521 for speciality doctors. Consultants can expect to earn between £76,761 and £103,490. There are additional supplements for on-call work, antisocial hours, and other commitments. For additional information, please check our page on pay scales.
A Day in the Life of a General Surgeon
Daily work includes attending wards rounds, reviewing patients in outpatient clinics, performing surgery and monitoring patients pre- and post-operatively. There is also a considerable amount of on-call work including during the weekends. Around 50% of the work involves performing emergency surgical procedures.