Career Outlook: Colorectal Surgeon
A colerectal surgeon works closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut. The conditions that colorectal surgeons treat are quite varied. Some examples of conditions are fecal incontinence, severe constipation, cancers of the colon and rectum, fissures, fistulas, and hemorrhoids. They may also treat cases of rectal prolapse (this is when the rectum turns itself inside out).
Colorectal surgeons perform surgeries by using highly advanced equipment to make the surgery as noninvasive as possible. Some examples of tests or surgical procedures that a colorectal surgeon may perform are colonoscopies, colectomies or colon resections, a proctectomy or rectal removal, or a hemorrhoidectomy. Some colorectal surgeons will have specialized knowledge of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and have more experience with common IBD surgeries such as resections, ostomies, j-pouches, and strictureplasty. At times, a colorectal surgeon is consulted simply to give a patient more options, or to help determine if it might be better to wait for surgery.
Becoming a Colorectal Surgeon
In the U.S, Students must first complete a four-year bachelor’s degree, preferably in one of the sciences. Examples are biology, microbiology, chemistry, or physics. Passing the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and applying for medical school is the next step. Medical school is four years in duration, which is followed by a general surgery residency program that takes five to six years of training.
After completing the general surgery residency, specialized programs to become a colorectal surgeon take one to two more years. In all, a colorectal surgeon will complete a minimum of 14 years of formal classroom education and practical training. In the United States, colorectal surgeons are certified by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery (ABCRS).
To become board certified, surgeons must be proficient in the field of general surgery; must demonstrate expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal disorders; and must pass written and oral examinations. Colorectal surgeons are re-certified every 10 years.
The workplace of a Colorectal Surgeon like?
Colorectal surgeons work in hospitals and perform hundreds of operations each year, often using minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery. They are also active in research, finding new and better ways of diagnosing and treating disease, and in educating the next generation of surgeons.