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How to Become a Plastic Surgeon!

October 10, 2013


Graduate High School
Congrats! I hope you were the valedictorian, because you’re going to need a great GPA and stellar SAT / ACT score to get into a good university pre-med program. Don’t forget those extracurriculars because deans love well-rounded kids!

Off to College
Taking the pre-med route or majoring in a hard science is a great idea, but isn’t necessary as long as you complete your med school pre-reqs. And remember, grades are more important than parties! The average GPA of those accepted to med school in 2012 was 3.68. Extracurriculars show your dedication, so try to volunteer or work in a hospital for at least a year.

Application Time
Before you can apply to medical school, you have to take the MCAT. The average MCAT score of those accepted to med school in 2012 was 31.2. Get recommendation letters from former professors and your superiors at any relevant jobs. In 2012, 43.11% of med school applicants were accepted.

Welcome to Medical School!
Congratulations, you made it this far! Good grades are vital to getting into a respectable residency program. Internships and residency have extremely limited allotments, so it’s important to excel in your studies.

Ace the USMLE
You must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination in order to practice in the U.S., so study hard! Steps 1, 2 CK and 2 CS are taken during medical school. You’ll take Step 3 after you’ve earned your MD. Step 1 is widely considered the hardest part of the exam, and while 94% of first time takers pass, those who have to retake Step 1 only have a 64% pass rate.

Become a Resident
After med school, you should apply to a residency program. You can choose the independent pathway, which includes completing a surgical residency before moving onto a plastic surgery residency or fellowship, or the integrated pathway, which combines general surgery and plastic surgery in a six-year program. There are very few plastic surgery programs, so it’s one of the most competitive residencies.

Do a Fellowship
Many residents choose to further their education with fellowships after completing their residencies. A future plastic surgeon may choose to sub-specialize in cosmetic surgery, hand surgery, craniofacial surgery, microsurgery, burn reconstruction or breast reconstruction. These highly competitive fellowships typically take one year to complete.

Join the Workforce
You can now practice as a cosmetic surgeon! Medical school loans can reach upwards of $250,000 and repayment begins after residency, so many new surgeons choose to join the workforce directly after completing their residencies.

Become Board-Certified
You’ll need to pass the American Board of Plastic Surgery Certification Test to earn the title of Plastic Surgeon. There are two parts to the exam. In 2012, the pass rate for the written exam was 86.6%, while the pass rate for the oral exam was 77.8%.

Good Luck!

About The AuthorJeffrey Donaldson, MD Author Bio

Jeffrey Donaldson, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Columbus, Ohio. He strives to educate aspiring plastic surgeons everywhere to pursue their dream of helping others feel more confident in their own bodies. When he isn’t in the operating room or talking one-on-one with patients, Dr. Donaldson is mentoring rising surgeons or discussing the most advanced surgical techniques with his professional colleagues.