Working life (general surgery)

This page provides useful information on the working week as well as any on-call and other commitments, along with information on who you will work with. The attractions and challenges of the job are also in this section.

Emergency surgery will usually be a large part of your work – often around 50% of your workload.

As with any surgical specialty your working day is usually long – with early starts and late finishes typical.

Although surgery is your main responsibility, you will also be evaluating patients in outpatients’ clinics and emergency departments and attending hospital ward rounds. Monitoring patients post-operatively is also a vital part of your job.

As a consultant you’ll still have your share of on call duties during evenings, nights and weekends. Elective surgery is also part of the work. The balance of on-call and emergency work can vary according to your sub-specialty. For example most breast surgery is elective, whereas patients with acute colorectal problems (colon, rectum and anus) often present as an emergency.

General surgeons work in smaller hospitals as well as larger teaching hospitals. There are greater opportunities for increased specialisation within large hospitals and specialist units.

General surgeons work with patients of all ages, from babies and children to elderly people. You will also explain procedures and treatment to the patients’ families.

As with any area of surgery you’ll have lots of administrative work to complete. This includes:

The EU Working Time Directive limits the working week to 48 hours. It is also possible to work part-time once you are consultant, or to train on a less than full-time basis (conditions apply).

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