There are a lot of careers to choose from, but one of the nobler ones has to be plastic surgery. Even though most people believe that plastic surgery is only for the vain and frustrated, this branch of surgery is quite useful for many medical reasons, as well as for simple aesthetic enhancements. Just to name one example, without plastic surgery, burn victims would have to suffer a lot.
In the same spirit, plastic surgeons aren’t just people who want to earn more money and give in to people’s vanities. They’re not shallow, either, as it is commonly believed. You need just as much education, training, and empathy to become a plastic surgeon as you do to become any other kind of doctor. In this day and age, it’s time to let go of the stigma and recognize this career as something helpful, fulfilling, and noble as it is.
To become a plastic surgeon, you’ll need to put in the hours and dedication. School and practice will be your biggest assets if you want to make it in the business and get recognized as a good plastic surgeon. Before you start this journey, let’s get acquainted with all the aspects of plastic surgery so you know what to expect. That will also help you decide if this path is for you.
1. Education Requirements
There are many levels of education you must complete if you want to become a plastic surgeon. The first task on the list will be to complete a bachelor’s degree. Typically, this degree should be in biology or chemistry, as these branches are related to medicine.
Next, you’ll need to go to medical school. Med school usually lasts four years and offers students opportunities to study and learn in the field. The first two years of medical school are characterized by a division of classroom and laboratory work. After that, the second two years focus on working in hospitals and clinics. Once you finish medical school, you will now be a Doctor of Medicine.
Education isn’t the only important part of becoming a plastic surgeon. As well as that, you need some training and practice. This is why medical residency is very useful.
During these five to six years, you’ll spend your time gaining experience and splitting your time between general and plastic surgery. The first few years will focus on general surgery, while the last few will be about plastic surgery. After completing a medical residency, you will need to pass one or more exams to legally become a surgeon.
Next, there’s the option of fellowship training. At this part of their education, plastic surgeons may choose a sub-field of plastic surgery. Even if you do decide to focus on one thing, you’ll be trained to handle all types of surgery first
2. Personal Requirements
Since the road to becoming a plastic surgeon is long and tiresome, we can conclude that not everyone can become a plastic surgeon. As well as the extensive years of education and practice, you’ll need some personal skills and characteristics. Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep up with the workload or meet the challenges of the career.
The individual who wants to pursue a career in plastic surgery must be driven and focused. If they’re not, they won’t be able to handle so many years of education and training. As well as that, the person needs to be empathic and patient.
If you become a plastic surgeon, you’ll be dealing with people daily. This requires a lot of patience and understanding, as different people will have different issues and attitudes. It will be your job to listen, comfort them, as well as to provide the professional need and care that they require.
This is why a career in medicine, and plastic surgery, isn’t for anyone. The plastic surgeon also needs to be confident and quick to provide accurate care immediately. Of course, a dose of creativity is also required for the job.
3. Opportunities for Work
The last thing you want after completing all those years of training and education is to be out of work. It’s important to know that your career is almost entirely set to take off after you finish your residencies. This is why you need to be informed about the competition in the field.
The competition doesn’t start after your residency is finished, though. You’ll find that the most competitive part of plastic surgery is finding the residency. The amount of applicants is usually double the number of open positions.
As far as the opportunities and competition after a completed residency are concerned, it all greatly depends on the geographical area. For whatever reason, this career choice is more appealing in certain areas than in others. When talking about the US, we can note that the competition in San Francisco is fierce. Getting work in other places isn’t as tough, though.
Generally, there will always be a need for skilled plastic surgeons. If your talent and dedication are recognized, you won’t have any problem finding a job. This is why you should work hard during your residency years. After all, it is during this time that you get to prove your worth and even possibly earn your place.
As well as public hospitals, there are plenty of opportunities for plastic surgeons in private practices, too.
4. Types of Plastic Surgery
There are different types of plastic surgery that you can pursue. Depending on what aspect you choose, the type of patients you admit will differ. The most commonly known type of surgery is cosmetic surgery. Here, you’ll deal with enhancing the aesthetic features of someone’s physical appearance. You can expect to encounter more female than male patients in this branch of plastic surgery.
There is also pediatric plastic surgery, where you’ll only deal with the issues children and teenagers have. If you choose a sub-specialty of plastic surgery, you’ll encounter people of all genders and ages. After all, anyone can get injured, become a burn victim, or be disfigured due to an illness. It’s your job to help.
Even though there are branches of plastic surgery, it doesn’t mean you’ll encounter one type of surgery only in a specific branch. Some surgeries may be done for both cosmetic and medical reasons. Rhinoplasty is the best example of this. Someone may get their nose done for aesthetic reasons, while others will need the surgery to solve their breathing problems and issues that come from those problems (like sleep apnea).
What this example shows is that a plastic surgeon needs general training and knowledge even if they want to specialize in a certain branch. You never know who you’ll encounter and what kind of surgery they’ll need for what reasons.
5. Working Hours and Conditions
As you may have guessed, the working hours of a plastic surgeon are atrocious. If you become a plastic surgeon, you’ll always be on call. This means that you’ll work weekends, as well as public holidays. A typical working day may begin early and end late in the night. In some countries, plastic surgeons work an estimated 48 hours per week.
The workplace will be susceptible to change and the environment will never be the same. This is because, as a plastic surgeon, you’ll work with plenty of different colleagues. As well as visiting different parts of the hospital you work at, your expertise may be needed in different hospitals.
The job of a plastic surgeon doesn’t end when the surgery is finished. Instead, you’ll work in a variety of settings. Operating theatres, wards, and consulting rooms will be fairly familiar to you. As well as that, you’ll need to evaluate patients in outpatient clinics. If all of this wasn’t enough, you’ll be expected to deal with the patient’s family.
Becoming a plastic surgeon may seem like an easy path to take, but as you can see, it takes a lot more effort and dedication than people think. Now that you’re somewhat aware of the challenges this branch of surgery can give you, you can better gauge if you’re equipped to handle them.
This may seem like a lot of information at once, but remember to take it one step at a time. If you’re passionate and see this as your calling, nothing will be able to stop you from pursuing your dream.