21st Century Careers: Trauma Surgeon

By Josephine Abraham ('22)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/surgeon-doctor-isolated-mask-3016388/

After watching more than ten seasons of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy , being a surgeon seemed appealing. Being a surgeon is a lot different than what is portrayed in television shows. In an interview with trauma surgeon, Dr. Joyce Bonitz, she said there are not many lows to being a surgeon, there are just challenges.


In an interview with Dr. Bonitz she explained why she wanted to be a trauma surgeon. “I wanted to do procedures. I used to work in the ER and I really liked it. I liked the ER procedures but for most of the time we didn’t do procedures so I decided to be a Trauma Surgeon. I like being a Trauma Surgeon because I like enjoy the excitement. You have to be able to remain calm under stress and have good people and communication skills.”


It takes a lot of time and money to become a surgeon. It takes four years of college, five to nine years of medical school, about seven years of residency, and fellowship. All of the years of school ended up to be about $300,000 in student loans for Dr. Bonitz.


As a resident, Dr. Bonitz would work “up to 80 hours a week.” As an attending, she still works about 80 hours a week. A residency is postgraduate training after graduating from medical school.


Stanford Medical School located in Stanford, California is an excellent school to get your degree and training from. The acceptance rate is very low at 2.3% as of 2016 and tuition was $66,696 per year as of the 2015-2016 school year. The type of educated needed for this job is a Medical Doctor (MD). The projected number of new jobs for surgeons is anywhere from 5,000 to 9,999, and the projected growth rate is faster than average. The 2017 median pay is $75,000 or more.


Dr. Bonitz said, “If you put in more work now, you could do less in college. Take AP classes such as biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, calculus, and English because they will really benefit you.”


The personality traits that are best for this job include patient sensitivity, as surgeons can’t just tell somebody they’re going to die or that a family member is dead.


They also have to be able to take criticism. Surgeons can’t just break down crying or talk back when someone tells them what they are doing is wrong. They also have to be able to remain calm under pressure and stress and be strong and committed. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to become and physician or surgeon.


When Dr. Bonitz was a resident she made about $57,000. Nine years later, she made about $69,000 a year. As an attending physician, she makes exponentially more but there are and student loans to pay back and high taxes to pay. An attending physician is one who has completed residency and practices medicine in a hospital or clinic. An average doctor takes about 20 years to pay off his or her loan. For example, Dr. Bonitz pays $6,000 a month to pay it back.


A surgeon is a lifesaver. They fix people and they change lives. This career takes a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and money. They have to be risk-takers and work well under pressure.

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