Working life (vascular 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.

"The challenge in vascular surgery is both operative (you need good surgical and endovascular skills) and medical (arterial disease affects many organs, you need to treat the whole patient). To achieve good outcomes you need to meet both these challenges. When you do, often as part of a team, it is very rewarding. Vascular surgery is not dull and routine for very long!”  Consultant Vascular Surgeon.

How your time is spent

Around 40-50% of your surgical work is likely to be emergency surgery and the remainder elective work.

When you are on the emergency duty rota you’ll normally start work at 8 am with a ward round to review all the patients under the care of the vascular unit. You will also review patients referred by other doctors and decide whether or not they need emergency surgery. At the end of a day’s surgery you would normally hand over to an on call surgeon. This duty surgeon role is often undertaken on a rota basis, for perhaps one in every six weeks, depending on the size of the unit.

Work outside emergency surgery includes attending ward rounds and outpatient clinics as well as elective surgery and other procedures. For high-risk cases it is normal to work alongside another vascular surgeon.

When not performing surgery, vascular surgeons undertake a mixture of ward rounds and outpatient clinics. Outpatient and minor interventions may be provided on hospital sites away from the main vascular unit.

As with any area of surgery you’ll have lots of administrative work to complete. This includes writing letters to GPs and patients, other paperwork, attending departmental and multidisciplinary meetings and undertaking research. Teaching undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental students is often also part of the work.

Many of the patients with arterial disease are elderly and have other medical conditions such as diabetes. However, vascular surgeons treat patients of all ages, often providing help and assistance to other specialties. They may see young patients with arterial disease caused by congenital abnormalities or trauma.

On call and working hours

When you are not working as duty surgeon you could expect to work on an on call basis to deal with emergency cases about one in every six nights/weekends. Many vascular services are now centralised with surgeons working in teams of at least six consultants. This allows services to be delivered around the clock. Increasingly emergency services are being delivered by consultants, and by working in a large team emergency work can become part of their fixed job plan.

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 (LTFT) basis (conditions apply). Find out more about LTFT training.

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