Trauma Surgeon Residency and Training Programs
Learn about the responsibilities of a trauma surgeon. Get information about the degrees and residencies required as well as licensure and certification.
How Do I Become A Trauma Surgeon?
The first step to becoming a trauma surgeon is to obtain a medical degree. Many medical programs will include a trauma rotation and additional trauma courses may be available.
Once you have a medical degree, you will need to enter a general surgery residency. These are offered at teaching hospitals around the country. A general surgery residency typically lasts five years and includes rotations in many different surgical subspecialties. Most surgery residencies allow you to either generalize or to go into a subspecialty, of which trauma may be one.
After or as part of your residency, you may enter a trauma surgery or surgical critical care fellowship. These are typically 1- or 2-year programs focused on working specifically with the critically wounded or ill. They often include a combination of education and clinical work. Aside from working in surgery and ICUs, you may take rotations in related subjects, such as trauma anesthesiology, infectious diseases or research.
|Rotation Areas||Infectious disease, research, anesthesiology, surgical subspecialties|
|Job Duties||Whole-body surgery, severe injuries, emergencies, quick diagnoses and treatments|
|Certification Boards||Mandatory exam through United States Medical Licensing, optional exams through American Board of Medical Specialties and American Board of Surgery|
|Median Salary (2019)||$307,556 (for all trauma surgeons)*|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||14% growth (for all surgeons)**|
Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Does a Trauma Surgeon Do?
As a trauma surgeon, you will work with severely injured or sick patients, often in an emergency environment. You will need to coordinate a team of diverse health professionals, quickly diagnose a patient and plan treatment. Also, you will need to be able to perform surgery on the entire body, instead of specializing on a specific system or area.
Can I Be Certified?
All states require that surgeons take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) in order to practice. Additionally, both the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Board of Surgery offer a surgery certification.
The American Board of Surgery also offers a certification in surgical critical care surgery. In order to qualify to take the exam, you will need to be a certified general surgeon, licensed to practice, successfully completed an accredited program and primarily engaged in surgical critical care. Certification is good for three years.