How to Become a Surgeon in Nigeria

Medicine and surgery is a professional course that takes 6 years to study in Nigeria. One will be exposed to various courses that are relevant to the medical field. In medical school, you are required to pass all your courses successfully before you will be awarded your degree and license of operation as a doctor. The medical profession is a very noble one as you are tasked with the burden of saving lives and ensuring the well-being of citizens. However, with the reputation of becoming a doctor comes lots of hard work; starting from long hours of study, numerous exams, and the bulky workload across the 6-year period, one can now understand why the medical profession comes with much respect. The hard work is eventually worth it when you see the great change you bring to your country in the health sector. Are you hoping to become not just a doctor but a surgeon, this article provides you with all the details you need on how to reach such a high point in the medical profession.

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Becoming a Surgeon in Nigeria

All surgeons have a basic medical degree to qualify as doctors, this is one of the principles of medicine and surgery. There are various fields in the surgical profession, but one thing stays true to all, the surgical profession is one of responsibility and leadership. A surgeon is primarily responsible for the pre-operative diagnosis of a patient, performing the operation itself, and for post-operation surgical care and treatment. He or she is the leader of the surgical team. When performing an operation, the surgeon will have to make important decisions about the patient’s health, safety, and welfare. He or she must work collaboratively with other members of the surgical team to ensure the safety of the patient. Other members of the team include a surgeon’s assistant, who is a qualified surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and operating room nurses.

Who is a Specialist Surgeon?

A specialist surgeon is a professional who focuses on a particular field of medicine such as cardiology, neurology, orthopedics and others so that he or she becomes an expert in that particular field. All specialist Surgeons have years of education, training and work experience in their chosen areas. Below are the steps to becoming a Surgeon in Nigeria:

Become a qualified Medical Doctor

The first step to becoming a Surgeon is to become a medical doctor. Before you can qualify as a medical doctor in Nigeria, there are certain academic requirements that must be met. The process begins in your secondary school where you have to take science subjects such as Chemistry, Physics, and Biology to understand the scientific process of things.  You cannot be in the social sciences or art class if you know you want to become a doctor. It is when you have passed these subjects that you can proceed to a University to study Medicine.

Admission into Medicine and Surgery

In order to gain admission into medical school at any Nigerian accredited university, you must have a minimum of 5 credits in the core science subjects, which are Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English and Mathematics. This is the benchmark for admission into most science courses especially medicine. After this, you will be required to write the United Tertiary Matriculation Examinations where you must score high enough to make the cut-off mark of your preferred university. There is also a Post-JAMB examination administered by universities themselves to act as a screening measure so they can admit only the most qualified.

Gain Real-world experiences

If you want to become a surgeon, you have to be particular about gaining real-world experiences, treating people as a general practitioner before going into a specific branch of medicine.

Internship (Housemanship)

Upon graduating, you must undergo a twelve-month period of internship in a certified Nigerian hospital before you can be fully registered as a medical doctor. In Nigeria, every Medical school graduate does their Houseman ship before going for their NYSC (National Youth Service Corps). It is the certificate of full registration that allows you to fully practice medicine in Nigeria. You must complete this internship within twenty-four months after your date of graduation, otherwise, you will have to sit for the MDCN’s (Medicinal and Dental Council of Nigeria) assessment examination before you can be fully registered.

Apply to the surgical department of a Medical School

On your journey to becoming a Surgeon, you must apply to the training program of the surgical department of a medical school. The admission criteria as a general surgeon for these training programs are strict and fierce. This training could last from five to eight years. It is after graduating from this training program that you are then certified as a Surgeon.

Other Requirements to Become a Surgeon

  • Successful surgeons possess specific characteristics and outlooks that contribute to fulfilling careers.
  • Passion for the medical profession
  • Tenacity to persevere through more than ten years of formal training
  • Ability to think fast
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Management skills

Various Disciplines in the Field of Surgery

There are various specialties you can take up in the field of Surgery, these are:

General surgery: This is performed by surgeons who have been trained to manage surgical procedures in any area of the body. Subspecialties within general surgery are:

  • Ear, nose and throat surgery, also known as otolaryngology
  • Neurosurgery – This is surgery involving the brain and spinal cord.
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology – This is medical and surgical care for pregnant patients and other issues regarding the fetus and female reproductive organs.
  • Ophthalmic surgery – Surgery involving the eye and vision
  • Orthopedic surgery – This is surgery that involves the musculoskeletal system including bones, muscles, and joints
  • Pediatric surgery – Surgery and medical care for children and teenagers.

The process involved in becoming a Surgeon is long as it requires years of training and active medicine practice but it is one of the greatest achievements in the medical profession and is worth it.


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