How to Become Surgeon in India

how to become surgeon in india

Becoming a surgeon is a journey that combines rigorous academic training, hands-on clinical experience, and a dedication to continuous learning and improvement.

In India, this pathway is carefully structured and regulated to ensure that aspiring surgeons receive the comprehensive training needed to provide high-quality healthcare.

From completing a 12-year pre-medical education with a focus on the sciences to obtaining an MBBS degree, and from specializing in a surgical field through postgraduate programs to staying updated with the latest surgical techniques, each step is designed to hone the skills and expertise of a surgeon.

This guide aims to provide an overview of the systematic and multi-step process to become a surgeon in India, offering insights into the educational qualifications, training, and additional opportunities for specialization and career growth.

Pre-Medical Education

In the context of becoming a surgeon in India, pre-medical education refers to the foundational learning that sets the stage for medical studies.

This stage is critical because it provides the essential knowledge in science subjects that form the basis for medical education and practice. Here’s a more detailed look at the components:

10+2 Education:

  1. Subject Focus: Students should focus on science subjects, namely Physics, Chemistry, and Biology during their higher secondary education (often referred to as +2 or 10+2 stage). Mathematics is also recommended for those interested in specific areas that may require a strong mathematical foundation.
  2. Board of Education: Students can complete their higher secondary education under any recognized board of education, be it CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education), or state boards.
  3. Performance: Given the highly competitive nature of medical entrance exams in India, strong academic performance in these subjects is essential. High marks in the 10+2 examinations not only bolster one’s confidence but also offer a solid foundation for tackling entrance exams.

Entrance Exam Preparation:

  1. Timeline: Preparation for entrance exams like the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) generally starts either in the 11th grade or right after completing the 12th-grade examinations. Some students opt for coaching institutes to aid their preparation.
  2. Syllabus: The NEET UG syllabus is predominantly based on the 10+2 curriculum of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Mastery of these subjects is crucial for a good score.
  3. Mock Tests and Sample Papers: Regular practice with mock tests and past question papers helps in familiarizing oneself with the exam pattern and improves time management skills.
  4. Holistic Preparation: Apart from academic readiness, mental and emotional preparedness are also key. The competition is intense, and stress management techniques like regular exercise and meditation can be beneficial.
  5. Updates and Guidelines: Students must keep themselves updated with any changes in the examination pattern, syllabus, or other guidelines, often released by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the NEET exams.

By paying diligent attention to both 10+2 education and entrance exam preparation, students can build a robust pre-medical educational foundation.

This is a vital step because a strong start can make the long journey to becoming a surgeon a bit more manageable.

Medical Education

Medical education in India forms the cornerstone of a career in surgery.

It commences with obtaining a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree and progresses through rigorous academic and clinical training. Below is a more detailed explanation:

Entrance Exam: NEET UG

  1. Exam Importance: The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET UG) serves as the gateway to medical education in India. A high score is essential for securing a seat in a reputed medical college.
  2. Admission Process: Based on the NEET UG score, candidates apply for counseling and subsequently secure admission in various medical colleges. Quotas may be available for candidates based on various social and economic criteria, depending on governmental policies.

MBBS Program

  1. Duration: The MBBS program is usually 5.5 years long, which includes a one-year mandatory internship.
  2. Curriculum Breakdown:
  • First Year: Subjects often include Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry.
  • Second Year: Studies typically involve Pathology, Pharmacology, Microbiology, and Forensic Medicine.
  • Third Year: ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat), Ophthalmology, and Preventive and Social Medicine are usually covered.
  • Fourth Year: The curriculum generally includes General Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Pediatrics.
  1. Clinical Training: Throughout the MBBS program, students gain hands-on clinical experience. This is crucial for honing diagnostic skills, patient interaction, and understanding hospital workflow, all under the supervision of experienced professionals.
  2. Internship: A one-year mandatory internship provides rotational experience across different departments like General Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, and community medicine among others.

Assessment and Examinations

  1. Internal Assessments: Periodic assessments occur throughout the academic years. These are both theoretical and practical, and usually, a minimum score is required to proceed to the next academic session.
  2. University Exams: Examinations conducted by the affiliated university occur at the end of each academic year. These exams have both theoretical and practical components and are critical for proceeding to the next year.


  1. Degree Award: Upon successful completion of the MBBS program and the internship, students are awarded the MBBS degree, making them eligible for registration with the Medical Council of India (MCI) or the State Medical Council.
  2. Licensure: Registration with the medical council is necessary to legally practice medicine in India. This typically involves submitting proof of education and passing an additional licensure exam if required.

The MBBS program provides the foundational medical knowledge and clinical skills needed for a career in surgery.

It is an intense, comprehensive, and essential phase in the long pathway to becoming a surgeon. After this stage, graduates typically proceed to postgraduate training in surgery to specialize further.

Post-Medical Education and Training

Once the MBBS degree and internship are completed, the next crucial phase in the journey to becoming a surgeon in India involves postgraduate medical education and training.

This stage aims to deepen medical knowledge, enhance surgical skills, and provide specialization opportunities. Below are the key components:

Entrance Exam for Postgraduate Programs: NEET PG

  1. Exam Importance: Qualifying for a postgraduate seat requires a good score in the NEET PG (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Postgraduate) exam or other relevant examinations, depending on the institution.
  2. Specialization Choices: The NEET PG score enables candidates to choose a specialization, such as General Surgery or other surgical fields, during the counseling process.
  3. Admission Process: Similar to undergraduate admissions, the NEET PG score is critical for obtaining a seat in a recognized medical college for postgraduate studies. Here too, various quotas might apply.

Master of Surgery (MS) or Diplomate of National Board (DNB)

  1. Duration: Both MS and DNB are usually 3-year postgraduate programs.
  2. Curriculum: These programs offer intensive theoretical and practical training in surgical disciplines. Candidates are taught various surgical procedures, pre-operative care, post-operative management, and emergency care.
  3. Clinical Exposure: Students get extensive hands-on clinical experience, often serving as junior residents. This stage is crucial for mastering surgical techniques and understanding patient care in a surgical context.
  4. Thesis/Research: Most MS and DNB programs require candidates to complete a research project or thesis, which has to be submitted before appearing for the final exams.

Senior Residency (Optional)

  1. Duration: This typically lasts for 1-3 years, depending on the institution and specialization.
  2. Advanced Training: Senior Residency offers more advanced surgical training and allows candidates to further hone their skills.
  3. Super-Specialization Consideration: For those considering super-specialization, senior residency can serve as a preparatory step.

Specialization and Fellowships

  1. Super-Specialization (Optional): Surgeons can choose to super-specialize in fields like Neurosurgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, etc., through programs like M.Ch. (Magister Chirurgiae) or DNB Super Specialty. These are usually 3-year courses.
  2. Fellowships: These are specialized courses, often 1-2 years long, which allow for deep expertise in particular surgical techniques or sub-specialties. Fellowships can also be pursued internationally.

Certification and Licensure

  1. Medical Council Registration: Upon completing the postgraduate degree, candidates must register with the Medical Council of India (MCI) or the respective State Medical Council to practice as a specialized surgeon.
  2. Continuous Education: Many professional bodies require surgeons to engage in Continuous Medical Education (CME) programs to maintain their licensure.

The post-medical education and training phase is pivotal in shaping a competent, skilled, and specialized surgeon.

It’s a time of intense learning and professional development, preparing doctors for the independent practice of surgical medicine.

Specialization and Fellowships

After completing postgraduate medical education, aspiring surgeons in India often choose to further specialize in their field of interest or undertake fellowships to deepen their expertise.

These advanced opportunities can open doors to specialized surgical roles, academic positions, or research opportunities. Here’s what this stage usually entails:

Super-Specialization (Optional)

  1. Choosing a Subfield: Surgeons can choose to further specialize in specific surgical subfields like Neurosurgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, etc.
  2. Qualifying Exam: To gain admission into a super-specialization program, doctors may have to appear for another set of entrance examinations like NEET SS (Super Specialty) or institution-specific tests.
  3. Duration: Super-specialty courses like M.Ch. (Magister Chirurgiae) or DNB Super Specialty usually last for 3 years.
  4. Advanced Curriculum: These programs provide intensive training on complex surgical techniques, diagnostic protocols, patient management, and research methods related to the chosen subfield.
  5. Clinical Training: Training often involves rotations through specialized surgical units, where candidates are supervised by experts in the field.


  1. Niche Specialization: Fellowships offer the opportunity to gain specialized skills and knowledge in a specific area of surgery that might not be covered extensively in standard residency or super-specialty programs. These can include areas like Laparoscopic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Oncologic Surgery, etc.
  2. Domestic vs. International: Fellowships can be pursued either within India or abroad. International fellowships often provide exposure to cutting-edge technologies and methodologies.
  3. Duration: Fellowships usually last between 1-2 years but can vary based on the program and institution.
  4. Admission: Entry is often competitive and may require interviews, recommendations, and proof of prior experience or competence in the relevant surgical field.
  5. Research and Publications: Many fellowships require candidates to engage in research activities, present findings at conferences, and publish research papers.
  6. Certification: Upon successful completion of a fellowship, surgeons generally receive a certificate recognizing their specialized training. While not a formal degree, this can be an important credential for career advancement.

Continuous Professional Development

  1. Continuous Medical Education (CME): Many medical boards and professional organizations require ongoing education to maintain licensure. CME activities can include workshops, seminars, and online courses.
  2. Networking: Engaging with professionals in the field through conferences, workshops, and seminars can offer new opportunities and knowledge about advancements in the surgical field.
  3. Publications and Research: Publishing research in peer-reviewed journals and participating in clinical trials can not only contribute to the field but also elevate one’s professional standing.

Certification and Licensing

Certification and licensing are critical steps in the journey to becoming a practicing surgeon in India.

These processes ensure that medical professionals meet the necessary standards of competence and ethical conduct. Below is a breakdown of what certification and licensing typically involve:


  1. Post-MBBS: After completing the MBBS degree and the mandatory one-year internship, medical graduates receive their MBBS certificates, making them eligible for provisional registration with the Medical Council of India (MCI) or the respective State Medical Council.
  2. Post-Graduate: On completing the Master of Surgery (MS) or Diplomate of National Board (DNB), students receive a certificate of specialization. This certifies their advanced training and competence in their chosen field of surgery.
  3. Super-Specialization: If a surgeon opts for further specialization through programs like M.Ch. (Magister Chirurgiae) or DNB Super Specialty, another set of certificates are awarded, signifying expertise in a super-specialized surgical field.
  4. Fellowship Programs: Completing fellowship programs often results in a specialized certificate, which, while not a formal degree, serves as a significant credential for advanced surgical practice or academic roles.


  1. Initial Registration: After receiving the MBBS certificate, provisional registration with the Medical Council of India (MCI) or the respective State Medical Council is essential for the internship. Full registration is granted after completing the internship.
  2. Specialization Registration: On completion of an MS, DNB, or any other recognized postgraduate surgical qualification, doctors need to get their new qualifications endorsed by the MCI or the respective State Medical Council to legally practice as a specialized surgeon.
  3. Periodic Renewal: Some states and organizations may require periodic renewal of the medical license. The duration for renewal and the process may vary.
  4. Professional Conduct: The license to practice can be revoked or suspended if a doctor is found guilty of medical malpractice or unethical behavior. Hence, adherence to ethical guidelines is crucial for maintaining the license.
  5. Additional Licenses: For practicing in other countries, additional exams and licensures like the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for the U.S., or the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test for the U.K., may be required.

Continuous Medical Education (CME)

  1. Ongoing Learning: To keep the medical license active, surgeons often have to engage in Continuous Medical Education (CME). These can include seminars, workshops, or online courses that provide updates on medical and surgical advancements.
  2. Credit Hours: Many medical councils and organizations require a certain number of CME credit hours for license renewal, although this can vary by jurisdiction and specialty.

Certification and licensing are not just administrative processes but integral parts of maintaining the standard and quality of healthcare.

They serve as validations of a surgeon’s training, skills, and ethical standing, thus playing a crucial role in professional development and patient safety.

Continuous Medical Education and Career Growth

Continuous Medical Education (CME) and career growth are integral parts of a surgeon’s professional journey.

They not only help in maintaining licensure but also play a crucial role in personal development, expertise refinement, and career advancement. Here’s how:

Continuous Medical Education (CME)

  1. What is CME?: Continuous Medical Education refers to ongoing educational activities that help medical professionals maintain competence, learn about new developments in their field, and enhance their practice.
  2. Types of CME Activities:
    • Workshops: Hands-on training sessions often focused on particular techniques or equipment.
    • Seminars and Conferences: Academic gatherings where research findings are presented, and various topics are discussed.
    • Online Courses: Digital platforms offer convenient ways to update knowledge on specific subjects.
    • Journal Clubs: Regular meetings to discuss and critically evaluate recent articles in scientific journals.
    • Certification Programs: Special courses designed to provide advanced training in a specific area.
  3. Credit Hours: Many licensing bodies require a certain number of CME credit hours for the renewal of medical licenses. The exact requirement can vary by jurisdiction and specialty.
  4. Documentation: Keep records of all CME activities, as these may be required during license renewal or for career advancement.
  5. Benefits of CME:
    • Skill Enhancement: Regular CME ensures that a surgeon’s skills and knowledge are up-to-date.
    • Patient Care: Continuous education translates into better patient care by staying updated with the latest techniques and treatments.
    • Professional Networking: Attending CME activities provides opportunities to network with peers and thought leaders in the field.

Career Growth

  1. Clinical Practice: Surgeons can choose to work in various settings including hospitals, specialty clinics, or even set up their own private practice.
  2. Academia: Teaching in medical colleges is another career avenue. It often allows surgeons to balance clinical practice with teaching and research.
  3. Research: Surgeons can engage in clinical trials and other research activities. Research findings can be published in peer-reviewed journals, contributing to scientific knowledge and personal prestige.
  4. Administrative Roles: Experienced surgeons can move into healthcare administration, working as department heads, medical directors, or even hospital CEOs.
  5. Global Opportunities: Surgeons with certain qualifications and experience can practice internationally. However, this often requires passing additional licensure exams and fulfilling other criteria of the host country.
  6. Consulting: Expertise in surgery can be leveraged to consult for healthcare companies, insurance firms, or governmental bodies.
  7. Public Health: Surgeons can work with public health organizations, contributing to community health initiatives and policies.
  8. Continuous Learning and Specialization: Career growth often involves further specialization or even diversifying into related medical fields. The more specialized or skilled you are, the more career opportunities you have.
  9. Mentorship and Training: Senior surgeons often play a key role in training the next generation of doctors, thereby contributing to the field and also solidifying their own reputations as experts.

Advanced Opportunities

Advanced opportunities in the field of surgery provide avenues for professionals to further enhance their skills, engage in groundbreaking research, contribute to academic literature, and occupy leadership roles in healthcare.

These opportunities are often pivotal for career advancement, personal satisfaction, and broader contributions to medicine. Here’s a breakdown:

Specialized Surgical Procedures

  1. Robotic Surgery: Mastering robotic-assisted surgical techniques can make a surgeon more versatile and allow them to perform more complex procedures.
  2. Minimally Invasive Surgery: Learning laparoscopic or endoscopic techniques can open doors to specialized practices that promise quicker recovery for patients.

Research Opportunities

  1. Clinical Trials: Participating in or leading clinical trials to test new surgical techniques, equipment, or medications can place surgeons at the forefront of medical advancements.
  2. Grants and Funding: Surgeons can apply for research grants to conduct in-depth studies in specialized areas, contributing to global medical knowledge.
  3. Publications: Publishing findings in reputable journals can establish a surgeon as an expert in the field and provide opportunities for academic career growth.

Academic Careers

  1. Professorship: Experienced surgeons can become faculty members at medical colleges, balancing clinical work with teaching and research.
  2. Guest Lectures: Surgeons can be invited to give talks or presentations at international conferences, adding to their professional reputation.

Leadership and Management

  1. Administrative Roles: Surgeons with experience can take on administrative responsibilities, such as becoming the head of a department or medical director.
  2. Healthcare Consulting: Some surgeons transition into consulting roles, advising hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, or healthcare startups on various issues.
  3. Policy Making: Surgeons can also engage in healthcare policy advocacy, working with governmental and non-governmental organizations to shape public health decisions.

Global Opportunities

  1. International Practice: Certifications like the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for the U.S. or the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) for the U.K. can enable surgeons to practice in other countries.
  2. Humanitarian Work: Surgeons can participate in international healthcare missions, providing surgical care in underprivileged areas.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

  1. Startups: Surgeons can venture into entrepreneurship, such as developing healthcare apps, surgical equipment, or telehealth services.
  2. Private Practice: Owning a clinic or surgical center allows surgeons to have more control over their practice, though it comes with additional managerial responsibilities.

Skill Enhancement Programs

  1. Fellowships: Special fellowships in niche surgical fields can offer specialized training and networking opportunities.
  2. Continuous Medical Education (CME): These programs are vital for staying updated on the latest surgical techniques and healthcare guidelines.

Advanced opportunities not only serve to enrich the professional lives of surgeons but also contribute significantly to healthcare advancements and patient care.

They enable surgeons to diversify their skill sets, gain multi-dimensional expertise, and ultimately become leaders in the field.


In conclusion, the journey to becoming a surgeon in India is an intricate and lengthy process, requiring a blend of rigorous academic training, specialized education, and practical experience.

It commences with a foundational pre-medical education, followed by an MBBS degree, a mandatory internship, and postgraduate specialization in surgery.

For those aspiring to a more nuanced mastery, there are options for super-specialization and fellowships in niche areas.

Certification and licensing act as gatekeepers, ensuring that only those who meet defined standards of proficiency and ethical conduct are allowed to practice.

Continuous Medical Education (CME) serves as a lifeline for staying updated with evolving surgical techniques and medical guidelines, thereby directly affecting the quality of patient care.

The landscape of advanced opportunities is vast and multi-dimensional, encompassing specialized surgical procedures, research, academic careers, leadership roles, and even entrepreneurial ventures.

These not only contribute to individual career growth but also to the broader advancement of medical science and healthcare services.

Becoming a successful surgeon involves more than just medical knowledge and surgical skills; it calls for a commitment to lifelong learning, ethical practice, and a constant pursuit of excellence.

The path is challenging but offers the promise of immense personal satisfaction, professional growth, and the invaluable reward of making a significant impact on people’s lives.


Pre-Medical Education

  1. NCERT Textbooks: For foundational sciences.
  2. AIIMS Explorer by MTG: Includes question papers and practice material for AIIMS entrance.
  3. Aakash, Allen, and FIITJEE Institutes: Offer coaching classes for NEET and AIIMS exams.

Medical Education (MBBS)

  1. Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry Textbooks:
  • Gray’s Anatomy
  • Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology
  • Harper’s Illustrated Biochemistry
  1. Previous Year Question Papers: For entrance exams for post-graduation.
  2. Internship Guidelines: Medical Council of India (MCI) or your medical college can provide guidelines.

Post-Medical Education and Training (MS/DNB)

  1. Standard Textbooks for Surgery:
  • Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery
  • Bailey & Love’s Short Practice of Surgery
  1. PG Medical Entrance Books: Published by CBS, Elsevier, and others.
  2. Research Journals: Such as the Journal of Surgical Education, British Journal of Surgery, etc.

Specialization and Fellowships

  1. MCI Guidelines: For super-specialty courses.
  2. International Journals: Like Journal of Neurosurgery, Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery for the specialized field.
  3. Networking Events and Conferences: Look out for specialized surgical conferences and workshops.

Certification and Licensing

  1. MCI Website: For guidelines on certification and licensure.
  2. State Medical Council Websites: For state-specific requirements.

Continuous Medical Education and Career Growth

  1. MedPage Today, UpToDate, Medscape: For CME courses and updates.
  2. LinkedIn and ResearchGate: For networking with professionals and academics.
  3. Global Surgery Conferences and Journals: For staying updated on global practices.

Advanced Opportunities

  1. Skill Enhancement Workshops: Often announced by medical colleges or surgical societies.
  2. Entrepreneurship Courses: Offered by business schools and online platforms like Coursera and Udemy for healthcare professionals interested in entrepreneurship.

Always ensure you verify the credibility of the resource and its relevance to your educational needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What subjects should I focus on in high school for pre-medical preparation?

Physics, Chemistry, and Biology are essential subjects to concentrate on during high school.

Which entrance exams should I take after 12th grade?

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is the most common entrance exam for medical courses in India.

How long does an MBBS program take in India?

An MBBS program typically takes 5.5 years, including a one-year mandatory internship.

Is the internship paid?

This varies between institutions and states, but generally, internships are stipend-based.

What are the options for postgraduate surgical training?

The most common options are Master of Surgery (MS) and Diplomate of National Board (DNB).

How long is the postgraduate surgical training?

MS usually takes 3 years, whereas DNB duration can vary.

Can I specialize further after MS or DNB in Surgery?

Yes, you can opt for super-specialization programs like M.Ch. (Magister Chirurgiae) or Fellowships in specific surgical fields.

Are Fellowships recognized by the Medical Council of India?

Recognition varies, so you should check specific Fellowship programs for MCI recognition.

How do I get registered with the Medical Council of India?

You need to apply for provisional registration after completing your MBBS and for permanent registration after completing the one-year mandatory internship.

Is my medical license valid indefinitely?

This can vary by state, but periodic renewal and continuing medical education credits may be required.

Are CME programs mandatory?

The requirement for CME varies but is often mandatory for license renewal.

What are the avenues for career growth in surgery?

Career growth can be in clinical practice, academia, research, administrative roles, and even entrepreneurial ventures.

What are some advanced surgical techniques I can learn?

Robotic surgery and minimally invasive surgery are two advanced techniques gaining prominence.

How can I practice surgery internationally?

Additional exams and licenses, such as USMLE for the U.S., are usually required to practice abroad.

Meet Ankit Kumar holding a master's degree in Museology, Ankit Kumar brings a profound understanding of the cultural and historical significance of museums. With a passion for research and a keen interest in writing, they have not only excelled in guiding individuals in their career paths but also have a flair for creating insightful and engaging blogs on various aspects of museology as well as different professions.

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