Physicians and surgeons have demanding education and training requirements. Physicians typically need to complete a bachelor's degree, then a degree from a medical school, and internship and residency programs. Although no specific major is required, students usually complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. In addition, some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain experience in a healthcare setting.
Medical schools are highly competitive. Applicants must submit transcripts, and scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and in the laws governing medicine. They also gain practical skills, such as learning to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses. During their final 2 years, medical students work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics.
Surgical technologists typically need postsecondary education. Many community colleges and vocational schools, as well as some universities and hospitals, have accredited programs in surgical technology. Programs range in length from several months to 2 years, and they grant a diploma or associate's degree upon completion. In 2017, there were about 500 surgical technologist programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).