How to Become a Surgeon: 5 Steps (with Images)

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How to Become a Surgeon: 5 Steps (with Images)
How to Become a Surgeon: 5 Steps (with Images)

Surgeons are doctors who specialize in invasive treatments that involve opening up the human body to treat certain pathologies, physical illnesses or injuries. Surgeons are among the most highly educated and well-paid professionals in Brazil, making the field of surgery an incredibly desirable and sought after career by many. It is natural that a large demand for surgeons and other medical professionals will continue to grow over the next few years as the population increases. Read on to learn how to become a surgeon.


Part 1 of 2: Become a Surgeon

Become to Surgeon Step 1

Step 1. Finish high school

This is the first step on the road to becoming a surgeon. During your studies, it is essential that you have paid particular attention to scientific subjects such as biology, chemistry and physics, and your performance in these areas from an early age will help determine which career in medicine will be the ideal choice for you.

Become to Surgeon Step 2

Step 2. Get approved to enter a medical course

In Brazil, the number of active medical schools exceeds 240, being, among them, 56% private, 28% federal, 13% state and 3% municipal. Admission to a national university is done by two methods: the entrance exam and the ENEM.

  • Many general entrance exams are composed of tests with questions of identical weight, with no difference between the weight applied to the subjects in relation to the courses for which they assess the candidate. However, the creation of specific entrance exams has been increasing, with tests designed with a view to specific sciences of knowledge, namely the Human, Exact and Biological. Medicine is in the great area of ​​Biological Health Sciences and, as such, many entrance exams directed to this course focus on life matters, such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics, with Mathematics being a great differential in various selective processes. Tests can generally differ in the number of questions in each of the subjects, all with the same weight, or keeping the same numbers in all areas, but with different weights.
  • The National Secondary Education Exam, or ENEM, is an assessment carried out by the Ministry of Education of Brazil. Its result is used in the Unified Selection System, or SiSU, for admission to Brazil, and also in some partner universities in Portugal. The ENEM is the biggest exam in Brazil, with more than 7 million participants divided into 1,661 cities in the country, and the second largest in the world, only behind the entrance exam in China. The test, different from traditional entrance exams, values ​​interdisciplinarity, and is divided into two tests applied one per day:

    • First day:

      Natural Sciences and its Technologies, containing 45 questions on Biology, Physics and Chemistry; Human Sciences and its Technologies, containing 45 questions on History, Geography, Philosophy and Sociology.

    • Second day:

      Languages, Codes and their Technologies, containing 45 questions on Portuguese Language, Literature, Foreign Language, Arts, Physical Education and Information and Communication Technologies; 45 questions on Mathematics and its Technologies, with Mathematics content; and an essay.

    • For the Medicine course in Brazil, the minimum passing scores vary, on average, between 695 and 822;
Become a Surgeon Step 4

Step 3. Complete the Medicine course

The average length of medical training is six years, which are generally divided into three stages:

  • The first two years are composed of basic subjects, which form the student's clinical reasoning, such as anatomy, physiology, histology, pharmacology and pathology.
  • In the third and fourth years, in professional disciplines and in care training, it is customary to initiate closer contact with patients, working with exams and diagnoses in order to apply the knowledge previously learned - the application time of this step may vary in this regard from one institution to another.
  • The last two years are devoted to clinical practice, in which students undergo training in hospitals.
  • Since 2012, graduates from the state of São Paulo must take the exam of the Regional Council of Medicine of the State of São Paulo (CReMeSP) in order to obtain professional registration. The test consists of 120 multiple-choice questions from nine different areas, namely Internal Medicine, Clinical Surgery, Pediatrics, Gynecology, Obstetrics, Mental Health, Epidemiology, Basic Sciences and Bioethics.
Become a Surgeon Step 5

Step 4. Complete a residency program

Upon graduation, he must further his studies and enter a surgical residency program, which generally offers a monthly stipend of just under R$3,000 for two years. According to data from the Ministry of Education (MEC), in 2010 just over 11 thousand places were offered to enter 3,500 residency programs, while 11 to 16 thousand students graduate annually, greatly increasing the existing competition in selection processes.

  • The workloads are large, generally being around 60 hours a week and there are shifts in hospitals that can last from 12 to 24 hours, depending on the professional's desire and area of ​​expertise. In clinics, the working period can be 4 hours, and there are also shifts on weekends.
  • Residency programs vary in different areas of study, including anesthesiology, nuclear medicine, pathology, infectology, psychiatry, preventive medicine, urology and neurology, among others. Programs vary in duration, with respect to the chosen area of ​​performance.

Part 2 of 2: Choose a Specialization

Become to Surgeon Step 7

Step 1. Decide on the type of surgeon you want to become

There are many types of surgery to focus your efforts on. Your experience during the early years of medical school will help you narrow down your options to just one area of ​​study. Consider the following examples of different types of surgeons:

  • Cardiologist Surgeons they focus on the heart and cardiovascular system, providing surgical treatments for a variety of conditions, including atherosclerosis and congenital heart disease.
  • THE general surgery, a prerequisite for various surgical specialties, encompasses three areas of specific activity, namely, Abdominal Surgery, Videolaparoscopic Surgery and Trauma Surgery. General surgeons treat organ problems such as the appendix, colon, liver, pancreas and gallbladder, among others.
  • Orthopedic surgeons maintain their focus on surgical treatments for musculoskeletal problems affecting bones, joints and ligaments, including spinal disorders, sports injuries, trauma and bone tumors.
  • neurosurgeons they work in the surgical treatment of neurological problems, usually completing five to six years of residency and performing brain, spinal cord and nerve surgeries.


  • Medical school can be quite expensive. Based on 2014, the lowest monthly fee belongs to the University of Gurupi, or UnirG, with a monthly fee of R$2,841.75 with discounts; the highest belongs to the University of Marília, or UniMar, with a figure of R$ 8,886.82. Many students make use of loans, financing or scholarships and government programs to cover the costs of education.

    • The University for All Program, or ProUni, is aimed at students who have completed all of their secondary education in public schools, or in private establishments as a full scholarship holder. It also serves people with disabilities and public school teachers who are teaching. In these last two cases, it is not necessary to meet the income criteria.
    • The Student Financing Program, or FIES, is intended to grant financing to students who are already regularly enrolled in on-site higher education courses that are not free and who have a positive evaluation in the processes conducted by the Ministry of Education. For more information about FIES, check out the official FAQ page.
  • In addition to the extensive degree of medical knowledge, experience and training, surgeons must also possess excellent communication skills, detail, display good manual dexterity and be empathetic.
  • If you are not satisfied with your grades in a particular selection process, invest time and effort in the subjects you had the most difficulty in, in addition to keeping the review always up to date with regard to the ones with the greatest weight.

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