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A surgeon is a specialist in surgery.  Surgery is a broad category of invasive medical treatment that involves the cutting of a living human body, for a specific reason such as the removal of diseased tissues or to repair a tear or breakage.  In Hong Kong, surgeons train far longer than other specialists.  Only after 6 years or more of training do they qualify.  There are several types of surgeons, such as general surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, heart surgeons and plastic surgeons.


Young Post meets Wyatt Chung, who works as a general surgeon in the Prince of Wales Hospital, one of the highly capacitated public hospitals in Hong Kong.



To be a caring doctor, you have to be able to deliver effective and holistic care since the patience’s life is in your hand every time you operate.  Intensive attention to the scene of uncertainties in the operation room is also required as you have to stay alert throughout the procedure, so that you can think on your feet and make prompt decisions whenever unexpected emergencies happen.


You need the ability to communicate effectively and compassionately, with a good attitude toward patients and your team.


You should also be able to critically appraise available evidence.  Of course, being patient, professional and having a strong will of pursuing life-long learning is crucial, so that you can provide the best possible care to patients.


Being multilingual is an advantage because you may encounter patients or other specialists from all over the world.  The ability to work under stress is vital for being a surgeon as well.



A bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery is necessary.  Chinese University offers a double degree of medicine and surgery (MBChB).  Chung studied the double degree and says it was good training and experience.



As different types of experienced surgeons specialize in different areas, their salaries vary.  The range of their annual salaries is $400000 (general surgeons) to $1000000 (neurosurgeons).  The salary increases with years of experience.  It can be said to be quite a lucrative career, but it requires high endurance and stamina. ‘And of course, you don’t need me to tell you that it’s a busy job’, sighed Chung with a smile indicating his burning passion for being a surgeon.


Work prospects

Surgeons typically work four and a half to five days a week on a regular basis, plus any time being on-call for emergencies or urgent situations.  Like most physician jobs, being a surgeon is more than a forty-hour per week job.  Most surgeons work 50-60 hours weekly, including on-call time, administrative duties, and other responsibilities.  Usually surgeons will have about 3 days blocked for surgery and 2 days devoted to office hours for follow-up appointments or pre-operative consultations.


The case load can vary, based on the type and complexity of operations performed, and can be anywhere from 150 per year up to 500 or more.  The average is about 300-400 operations annually.


In addition to time spent operating on patients, meeting with them, and consulting other physicians, surgeons must also spend time on administrative matters such as dictating progress notes for patient records.  Also, while some surgeons are employed by hospitals, most surgeons are owners or partial owners of their own practices, so they must assist in the management of business matters as well.


A day at work

Repairing injuries, preventing disease, even transplanting organs, surgeons are literally on the cutting-edge of medicine. Unless it is an emergency situation, the surgeon meets with the patient and listens to the problem.  The doctor does an examination, considers medical history, lab work and other possible treatments before deciding on the need for surgery.  Possessing that famous, good bedside manner can help in explaining the diagnosis, the risks of the operation and the patient’s responsibilities before and after the procedure.  In the operating room, the surgeon is assisted by an entire team.  They handle preparation, monitoring and other tasks, so that the surgeon can concentrate on the delicate work involved in operating.  Besides extensive medical knowledge, being a surgeon requires extracting precision, dexterity and stamina.  Some procedures take hours to perform.


After the surgery is over, the surgeon checks patients to see how they are recovering. Emergencies may result in the surgeon being called at any hour of the day or night. Surgeons may manage a busy private practice or conduct research.  They keep detailed records on patients and often write reports.  Some very experienced surgeons develop new surgical techniques that they teach to other surgeons and students.