Employment Prospects


Approximately 36,270 surgeons are employed in the United States. Many licensed physicians and surgeons in the United States work in private solo or group practices. About 22 percent work for hospitals, and others work for federal and state government offices, educational services, and outpatient care facilities. 

Starting Out

Many new physicians and surgeons choose to join existing practices instead of attempting to start their own. Establishing a new practice is costly, and it may take time to build a patient base. In a clinic, group practice, or partnership, physicians share the costs for medical equipment and staff salaries, and of establishing a wider patient base.

Surgeons who hope to join an existing practice may find leads through their medical school or residency. During these experiences, they work with many members of the medical community, some of whom may be able to recommend them to appropriate practices.

Another approach would be to check the various medical professional journals, which often run ads for physician positions. Aspiring physicians can also hire a medical placement agency to assist them in the job search.

Physicians who hope to work for a managed care organization or government-sponsored clinic should contact the source directly for information on position availability and application procedures.

Advancement Prospects

Surgeons typically advance by expanding their skill and knowledge, increasing the number of patients they treat, and by increasing their income. They may become fellows in a professional specialty or serve on the board of a medical association. Others achieve recognition by conducting research in new surgical procedures and treatments and publishing their findings in medical journals. Some become professors.

Tips for Entry

Check out the The AWS Pocket Mentor (, a handbook that aims to ease the transition from medical student to resident to surgeon.

Visit for resources and advice on medical training.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:


Talk to surgeons about their careers. Many medical surgical associations provides lists of members at their Web sites, which can be referenced for possible interview candidates.

Some associations, such as the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, offer resident mentoring programs or other support programs for medical students and new surgeons. Contact associations in your practice area for more information.