Considering a career in surgery?

What makes a good surgeon, and how to begin preparing now.

What makes a good surgeon?

Professor Lorna Marson, Professor of Transplant Surgery and Honorary Consultant Transplant Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, says that in her experience the qualities that make a good surgeon include:

  • perseverance and determination
  • enthusiasm and commitment to working in multidisciplinary teams
  • technical aptitude
  • good communication is essential in surgery as in other areas of medicine, with patients and staff members alike
  • a sense of humour and an ability to laugh at yourself

Looking back, how did I manage to find myself in surgery? As a student, I enjoyed my surgical attachments more than the others and enjoyed the company and humour of the surgeons I met (or most of them!)

Professor Lorna Marson
Professor of Transplant Surgery, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Transplant Surgeon, Royal Infirmary Edinburgh


At the moment, surgical training is very competitive and based on your progression through medical school and your foundation year training.

It also helps to make yourself known to surgical consultants and trainers early by choosing surgical topics for your undergraduate research projects.

Good performance in the first two foundation year postings, whether surgical rotations or not, will also be very important for entry into your chosen training scheme.