From an interview with
Dr. Joseph Dougherty
McLeod General Surgery Dillon
Surgeons come with many specialties and subspecialties, which often leaves people confused about the role of the “General” Surgeon. McLeod General Surgeon Dr. Joseph Dougherty helps explains the broad role of his specialty.
Here is a summary of Dr. Dougherty’s comments:
A general surgeon is somebody who is trained to basically work on the entire body. There are some subsections that we reserve for even more sub-specialized surgeons. General surgeons don’t operate on nerve tissue or the brain. General surgeons don’t typically fix orthopedic injuries, except in some circumstances.
General surgeons operate from head to toe, primarily focused on the chest and abdominal cavities. We’ll do some head and neck cases. In centers where there are other, sub-specialists such as ENT, those cases will be reserved for that subspecialty. However, a general surgeon is trained and comfortable operating almost anywhere on the body from head to toe. Most of our cases primarily focus on abdominal issues just because that’s the majority of what presents to our care.
General surgeons do everything from breast cancer and reconstruction of breast cases, to cancers within the chest and abdomen, resections of affected organs and all the way up to skin lesions, soft tissue and tumors. General surgeons will work on vascular cases, general surgeons do amputations and other orthopedic type cases. So it really is a very diverse field. Some general surgeons choose to sub-specialize further and go into very narrow niches.
Many general surgeons wear multiple hats. They will be a general surgeon one day and then the next day, they are a trauma surgeon and the next day they’re in the ICU taking care of critically ill surgical patients. And that ability to mix all of those disciplines together is what makes it such a fulfilling field to be in.
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