The trauma surgeon is a specialised surgeon primarily dealing with patients who have undergone a physical injury, often in an acute setting. Trauma surgeons must, therefore, be familiar with a variety of general surgical, thoracic, and vascular procedures. They deal with high acuity situations, often with little time and incomplete information about the patient they are supposed to treat. The more traditional trauma surgical interventions often include procedures such as exploratory laparotomy, wherein a trauma surgeon has to open up the patient’s abdomen and examine the abdominal organs for any injury or disease. Likewise, the surgeon opens up the chest to perform tracheostomies, which are procedures for inserting a breathing tube through the throat to gain access into the pleural space. In a nutshell, these are some surgeries performed by a trauma surgeon as well as a specialised doctor.

Types of Trauma Surgeons

The expansive scope of trauma surgeons’ surgical critical care training enables them to address most injuries to the neck, chest, abdomen, and extremities. Trauma surgeons are not particularly limited to a specific area of the human body. They utilise both operative and non-operative management when it comes to treating patients. Some of their surgeries consist of:

  • Cardiothoracic surgeries: This type of surgery is involved in treating the organs inside the thoracic cavity, i.e., the chest area comprising the heart, lungs, and pleural space (the cavity between the lungs).
  • Vascular surgeries: This is a type of surgery involved in treating the lymphatic and vascular system consisting of arteries, veins, etc.
  • Anesthesiology: This is a specific medical field that safeguards a patient’s senses before and after surgery.

These were some examples intended to provide insight into what a trauma surgeon deals with on a regular basis. 

What Does a Trauma Surgeon Do?

A trauma surgeon performs surgery to repair blunt-force injuries. Their job often requires operating for long hours on several critical injuries on one patient.

Trauma surgeons are not routinely stationed in the ER but can be called for if the patient is in a critical state. Conditions wherein a patient suffers from low blood pressure due to a car accident needs emergency life-saving surgery or needs treatment to prevent long-lasting or permanent damage, require trauma surgeons to perform appropriate procedures.

Often, the trauma surgeon accompanies the ER doctor when patients with severe injuries arrive at the ER. When surgery is required or when the patient has to be admitted, the trauma surgeon assumes primary responsibility for the patient’s treatment and provides follow-up care as well.

How to Become a Trauma Surgeon?

As a trauma surgeon, you must first graduate from medical school, then complete a five- to seven-year general surgery residency, depending on whether your residency includes a two-year research period. After medical school, most trauma surgeons complete a one- to two-year fellowship in traumatology, critical surgical care, or emergency surgery. 

When it comes to researching how to become a trauma surgeon, choosing the correct major is crucial. The most common educational path that aspiring trauma surgeons take includes earning a bachelor’s degree followed by a doctoral degree. A master’s degree or an associate’s degree are two more degrees that we frequently see on trauma surgeons’ resumes.

Surgical trainees are usually supervised by consultants who teach undergraduate and postgraduate medical students. T&O surgeons also work on committees and audits. There are tremendous prospects to become involved in the management and actively participate in professional organisations once you have gained expertise.