What to look for in a general surgeon

Your general surgeon is there to guide you through the many decisions you will need to make concerning your health and treatment. They will exhibit a wide range of knowledge and skill to deal with any general surgical emergencies, good judgment, and the appropriate training. Before you commit to a general surgeon, consider the following checklist.

Membership of professional bodies

Your general surgeon will be a Member of one of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons (RCS), having undergone a rigorous three-year basic training program. They will then complete a further six years of Higher Surgical Training (HST) and become a Fellow of one of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons. Some will belong to professional associations related to their sub-specialty, such as the Association of Upper GI Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (AUGIS). You can also do further research into your general surgeon’s background, including medical school attended and training hospital.

Competency and experience

Experience matters when you’re facing a potential surgical operation, so ask your general surgeon how many patients they have treated with your specific condition and what their results are. Is your general surgeon competent in the main general surgery subspecialties, which include upper gastrointestinal surgery, colorectal surgery, breast surgery and endocrine surgery?

Familiarity with modern surgical techniques

Laparoscopic surgery – commonly known as keyhole surgery – uses state of the art tools and techniques. Keyhole surgery is both highly efficient and minimally invasive, making for improved outcomes and quicker postoperative recovery times. Ensure that your general surgeon is familiar with and competent – to perform these techniques related to his specialty.

Communication skills

A general surgeon may have a brilliant record, but they also need the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with you about your condition and treatment options. Book a consultation and ask a range of questions. How general surgeons respond will tell you a great deal about whether they are happy to respect your choices and involve you in the decision-making process.

An ethical approach

A general surgeon should never ride rough-shod over their patient’s wishes in pursuit of personal glory or recognition. If your general surgeon listens to your concerns during a consultation and puts you, the patient, first, then they’re possibly the right person to perform your surgery.