What Is a Surgery Fellowship? What Is a Fellow?

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Question: What Is a Surgery Fellowship? What Is a Fellow?

My surgeon says there will be a surgery fellow helping during surgery, and may be contributing to my care after the procedure. What does this mean? I know it doesn't mean "boy" because the fellow is female surgeon.

Answer: A surgical fellow is a surgeon who has completed their general surgical training. Instead of practicing as a general surgeon, they have elected to obtain more specialized training, and become a surgical specialist.

This additional education is referred to as a fellowship, so during the training, the surgeon is referred to as a fellow.

You are correct that fellows can be men or women, and fellow does not refer to the surgeon's gender, just the level of training they are completing.

In the United States, a fellow has completed at least 5 years of surgical training, and potentially many more.  Some surgeons study up to an additional 7 years if they plan to practice in extremely specialized areas, such as a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon who performs heart transplants.  The level of expertise required in some highly specialized areas requires many years of surgical training in addition to the 4 years of undergraduate work and 4 years of medical school.

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