10,000 hours to surgery specialisation

A vet students surgery reading list

So the other night I read an article (click here to read the original) where it claimed that to become a specialist surgeon you need 10,000 hours of doing surgery. Before we go any further let’s look at what 10,000 hours is…

416.67 days…
13.7 months
1 year, 1 month and 20 days

So that’s somewhere around 1 year, 1 month and 20 days just stood in an OR doing surgery and nothing else.

With a normal persons average working week Monday – Friday working 9 – 5 which is 2088 hours each year this would take nearly 5 years. And that’s only if the entire day was spent in surgery doing nothing else without and holidays or days off. In normal veterinary practice though sometimes a vet may have just 1 surgery day a week, or may spend 3-4 hours each afternoon doing surgery (around 783 hours in a year). This would take the time needed up over 10 years.

Now I want to specialise in surgery, so far my surgical hours stand at around 50 hours scrubbed in assisting or operating… Just 0.5% of what I actually need, so guess that makes me 0.5% of a surgeon. I want to specialise in surgery, it’s the biggest buzz ever knowing that in a few hours a problem can be fixed, and a life can be improved. Yet it’s a learning curve, every day I am learning loads of new things. Especially when it comes to practical experience, the amount of force required to separate connective tissue can be rather considerable for example.

The study required however is immense, todays photo shows just some of the surgery books that I am reading to support just what I am seeing currently. Let alone the additional reading that I must do for my normal subjects.

I disagree with the sentiment of the original article that to become a specialist surgeon is all about the number of hours you spend operating. I think being a specialist surgeon is about the passion and dedication to the immense learning required to be able to effectively and efficiently improve life within the operating theatre. This may take as many hours as necessary, and for each person may vary, but each and every one of them hours will teach you something new.

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