How long do you have to go to school to be a trauma surgeon?

Medicine is a wonderful career, but extremely complex at the same time. The same happens with the human body, it’s perfect machinery, so when it fails, it requires specialists to intervene to detect and solve faults.

Being a trauma surgeon requires a great capacity for learning and reasoning, mental agility to resolve crises, tolerance for frustration, constant updating, ability to work as a team, but above all, a great vocation to serve.

In this brief guide, we’re going to answer the question “How long do you have to go to school to be a trauma surgeon?’’ What is surgery,, what does a trauma surgeon do, what skills should a trauma surgeon have and what is the average salary for a trauma surgeon.

How long do you have to go to school to be a trauma surgeon?

Becoming a trauma surgeon will take 12-15 years of study. Let’s see:

Step 1: Get a pre-med degree

Medical school is a graduate program; To be eligible to apply to medical school, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree and take specific prerequisites (classes that medical schools require).

Students who are interested in going to medical school generally major in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry. These specializations include most of the courses required to enter medical programs and will help prepare students for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Among the best universities that offer these degrees are;

  • Boston University
  • Cornell University
  • Emory University
  • Georgetown University

Step 2: Get your medical degree

Medical school programs last four years and admission to them can be highly competitive. Applicants with the best chances have high scores on the medical college entrance test, high grades in science and math courses, strong letters of recommendation, and experience working or volunteering in health care.

Medical students spend the first two years of their program taking courses in the scientific foundations and practice of medicine.

They study human anatomy and physiology, cell biology, genetics, pathology, immunology, and pharmacology. They also learn about medical ethics and how to interact with patients, including conducting exams and interviews, taking medical records, and diagnosing medical problems.

The second half of a medical program focuses on clinical rotations or internships. Students complete rotations in several medical specialties, including psychiatry, pediatrics, intensive care, and anesthesia.

Step 3: Enter a medical residency program.

Once a medical school has been completed, the next step is to gain experience with residency, focusing on a particular medical specialty. If you aspire to become a trauma surgeon, you must obtain a residency in general surgery to be exposed to a variety of surgical procedures. The residency usually lasts between 4 to 5 years.

Step 4: Medicine licenses

You must obtain a license and certification to practice medicine. To get this license, the student must pass a series of exams to evaluate and certify their level of skill and knowledge. And once you get your medicine licenses you officially become a trauma surgeon.

What is the surgery?

Surgery is the branch of medicine that physically manipulates the structures of the body for diagnostic purposes. The first surgeries were used for the treatment of trauma and wounds that occurred during life outdoors, surgical techniques have improved thanks to technological and health advances and the development of more sophisticated tools that allow us to ensure successful surgeries.

What is trauma?

Traumatology is the branch of medicine that is dedicated to the study of injuries to bones, muscles, joints, etc. 

Traumatology is divided into three large areas or fields of action:

  • Bones (fractures, etc.)
  • Joints and ligaments (sprains, dislocations …)
  • Muscles and tendons (fibrillar tears, tendinitis …)

It should be noted that not all diseases of the locomotor system are the responsibility of the traumatologist. For example, many joint conditions are treated by the rheumatologist or even the physical therapist.

What is a trauma surgeon?

Trauma surgery is the specialization in surgery that focuses on treating and caring for damage, often life-threatening, that is caused by the forces of impact. The causes of impact forces are many, but some of the most common include car accidents, falls, sports and crush injuries, as well as gunshot or stab wounds.

In catastrophic incidents, trauma surgeons are often part of a multidisciplinary team of surgeons such as; orthopedic (specialist for musculoskeletal damage), vascular (specialist for arteries, veins, and other vessels), maxillofacial (specialist for facial damage), cardiothoracic (specialist for the heart and thoracic organs), plastic (specialist for the reconstruction of the areas of the body that follow) and neurosurgeons (specialists for damages to the brain and nervous system).

Trauma surgery is a fast and demanding practice that takes very little time for lengthy discussions that may otherwise be seen in some medical consultations. The trauma surgeon generally undergoes training after completing a basic medical degree.

What does a trauma surgeon do; Procedures involved in trauma surgery

Trauma surgeons are adequately trained to assess and handle damage to any area of ​​the human body such as; the neck, abdominal area, chest, legs, feet, arms, and hands. Any patient who has experienced traumatic physical injury can be seen by a trauma specialist.

Upon arrival at the emergency room, trauma surgeons quickly assess patients to determine the extent of the injuries and which are functioning and life-threatening. Resuscitation and stabilization are key priorities before surgical operations, only if surgery isn’t necessary to save the patient’s life.

Methods used to fix the damaged fragment include radiographic X-rays and CT-scans as well as MRI. With these tools, the surgeon can determine damage to internal organs and hemorrhage. Trauma surgeons work closely with the emergency staff in the resuscitative and stabilization efforts of the patient.

Airway evidence, respiration, circulation, and necessary drugs are the key parameters controlled. The classification care at admission checks for typical details, such as the patient’s vital signs, age, and history, or pre-existing conditions, such as cardiopulmonary disease. 

Laboratory tests, such as blood tests, may be necessary lines and equipment, and intravenous access to monitor vital signs.

Do trauma surgeons struggle with complications?

The most serious complication that can occur is the death of the patient. The probability of this increases with increasing severity of damage and the facility’s inability to handle the type of emergency and/or to stabilize the patient.

Failure to offer trauma surgery if required can immediately lead to a wide range of long-term problems, including, but not limited to, limbus amputation, internal organ damage, neurological deficits, and loss of the function. Fortunately, advances in medicine and technology in recent decades have improved understanding of the actions that cause morbidity and mortality in severe injuries.

What skills should a trauma surgeon have?

Trauma specialists must be able to:

  • Identify the concepts and principles of the primary and secondary revision in the trauma patient, using the different diagnostic tools available in the environment.
  • Establish management priorities in the trauma patient.
  • Initiate necessary primary and secondary management within the first hour after life-threatening trauma has occurred.
  • Acquire and perfect the necessary skills for the management of traumatic and medical-surgical emergency patients.
  • Diagnose and provide a temporary or definitive solution for all entities secondary to trauma.
  • Develop skills that allow diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, by different techniques, necessary to offer a definitive solution.
  • Describe the physiology, pathophysiology, and therapeutics of the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, neurological, metabolic and endocrine, hematological, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, gynecological-obstetric, immunology, trauma, and emergency and burn systems of the critically ill patient.
  • Identify infectious diseases secondary to trauma surgery and emergencies in terms of diagnosis and treatment.
  • Apply the knowledge of monitoring, bioengineering, and biostatistics to the management of the trauma patient.

What is the average salary for a trauma surgeon?

The average salary for a trauma surgeon according to PayScale can vary depending on the surgeon’s years of experience and the state they are in.

A trauma surgeon with less than 1 year of experience will earn an average salary of $ 301,004. With 1-4 years of experience will earn $ 304,645. Surgeons with 5-9 years of experience will earn an average of $ 321,790.

Experienced Trauma Surgeon with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $ 351,044 based on 41 salaries. At the end of their career (20 years or more), employees earn an average total compensation of $ 413,061.

In areas like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a trauma surgeon could earn a higher salary than average with a 17.7% increase. The highest salaries can be found in the states of Boston, Massachusetts, and Houston, Texas.

So are trauma doctors important?

Yes, despite being a somewhat long specialization, it’s of great importance in the current world, and this is due to a set of factors, such as the aging of the population in developed countries (which causes a higher incidence of diseases degenerative) and the increasing number of people who play sports at any age, with a corresponding increase in sports injuries.

To this must be added the spectacular advance in molecular biology or nanotechnology, as well as the development of implants and the latest surgical techniques, whose impact on traumatology and orthopedic surgery has been very positive. 

Such is the importance of orthopedics and traumatology, that the first decade of the 21st century was named “the decade of osteoarticular disease”, given its impact on world health.

FAQSs: How long do you have to go to school to be a trauma surgeon?

How long is the residency in surgery?

Trauma surgeons must be trained to handle a wide spectrum of illnesses and injuries in any area of the body that requires surgery. Surgery residencies can last on average 5 years.

Is it difficult to become a trauma surgeon?

Trauma surgery training is a long process with many challenges, it won’t be easy, but it won’t be impossible either. If you’re interested in studying traumatology, it will be important that you have a great interest in science and have a passion for helping others.

What type of surgeon makes the most money?

According to Doximity, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, radiation oncology, and vascular surgery completed the top five and thoracic surgery is the highest-paid surgical medical specialties in 2019, with average salaries above $ 550,000.

How many years of college does it take to be a surgeon?

In the first place, it will be necessary to study for four years to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in which they have to take pre-medicine subjects. Afterward, they should study five years of general medicine, at a theoretical level, and then carry out a specialty and residency of 4-5 years.

What comes after residency?

After residency, you must obtain your medical license that allows a person to practice medicine legally, and after that, you’ll be free to gain experience in the area that you specialize in caring for patients with a variety of diseases.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long do you have to go to school to be a trauma surgeon?’’ What is surgery, what is trauma, what does a trauma surgeon do, what skills should a trauma surgeon have and what is the average salary for a trauma surgeon

So, are you thinking of becoming a trauma surgeon?

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


How Can I Become a Trauma Surgeon? (2018). Retrieved October 13, 2020, from website:

Medschoolinsiders. (2020, May 9). So You Want to Be a Trauma Surgeon | Med School Insiders. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from Med School Insiders website: