How to become a Surgeon

Surgeons treat diseases, injuries and deformities by using a range of different methods and instruments, and may specialise in a particular field, such as cardiovascular or plastic surgery.

Personal requirements of a Surgeon

  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to exercise high ethical standards
  • Compassionate towards others
  • High level of motivation and self-discipline
  • Excellent hand-eye coordination

Education & Training for a Surgeon

To become a surgeon, you have to study medicine at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with particularly good results. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. Some universities offer medicine as a double degree and may have additional prerequisites. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institute you are interested in for more information. A surgeon is a specialisation of medicine and requires post graduate study, experience in approved hospitals and the passing of examinations leading to membership of the appropriate professional college. Specialist training programs and examinations are administered by these colleges. Entry into these courses is highly competitive and based on a combination of academic achievement, performance on the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and a structured interview. The UMAT is a written test that assesses non-academic personal qualities. Alternatively, you can become a surgeon by completing a relevant bachelor degree followed by a postgraduate qualification in medicine. Entry into the graduate-entry courses is based on prior completion of a bachelor degree, performance in the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and a score resulting from a semi-structured interview. Studies in behavioural, social, biological and physical sciences, and humanities are likely to enhance performance in the test, and are offered at most universities.

Additional Information

Following completion of the above courses, graduates must undertake one year of full-time employment (internship) at a recognised teaching hospital to be able to gain full registration as a surgeon with the Medical Board of Australia. Prior to commencing clinical placements, students will be required to undergo a National Police Check and a Working with Children Check, and provide evidence of immunisations. It is a legal requirement that graduates to be registered with the Medical Board of Australia before practicing in any state or territory in Australia.

Duties & Tasks of a Surgeon


  • operate on patients to repair injuries, fix deformities, treat disease and improve function
  • examine patients to determine medical state and surgical risk
  • prescribe pre-operative and post-operative treatments to patients including sedatives and antibiotics
  • analyse patient medical history, allergies and examination results to decide best courses of action
  • refer patients to other medical specialists and exchange relevant medical details

Working conditions for a Surgeon

Surgeons can work in private practice alone or with fellow medical practitioners, in a group practice, in community health centres or at a public hospital. They work in cities, suburbs and rural towns.

Employment Opportunities for a Surgeon

Opportunities for surgery graduates is dependent on a number of factors including population levels, birth and death rates, advances in medical technology and patterns of illness. Graduates may have to work in rural and remote areas, where there can be a shortage of surgeons.


Brain Surgeon

Cardiovascular Surgeon

Orthopaedic Surgeon

Plastic Surgeon

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