Did you know that almost 400,000 babies are born preterm every year in the United States? Despite the intricacies and difficulties faced by doctors, almost 95% of the babies end up surviving, all because of the job of a neonatal surgeon. Neonatal Surgeons commit themselves to extensive training periods and various examinations. They do this so they can stand on the front lines and save the lives of newly born, a life who haven’t even opened their eyes yet or experienced any of the beauties that this world has to offer.
So, who are neonatal surgeons?
A neonatal surgeon can be best described as a surgeon specializing in performing surgical procedures for newborn infants. They work in hospitals within the neonatal care unit (NICU) with all the surgical facilities to provide the highest level of care to babies. Here they perform a wide array of surgical procedures such as correcting congenital disabilities, abdominal complications, congenital cardiac surgery, urologic complications, etc., depending upon their area of specialty. Apart from hospitals, many neonatal surgeons also work in private practices where they offer their services on the assigned days. Some of the most common specialties that neonatal surgeons opt for include:
- Pediatric Surgery,
- Endocrinology and
- Infectious Disease
Despite whichever specialty you opt for, the job of a neonatal surgeon is one where even though a surgeon may work in shifts. Still, he has to be available for any kind of emergency 24/7.
Duties and responsibilities of a neonatal surgeon
- Perform detailed evaluations before birth to assess any health complications for the at-risk infants. This may be done using ultrasound and other necessary equipment.
- Evaluate as well as diagnose newborn infants
- Identify the safest course of action to treat newborn infants.
- Examination of newborns and developing infants to identify if there are indicators of any physical abnormalities
- If there is, it is followed by chalking out the best possible treatments to deal with such situations.
- Perform surgery on critically ill and premature newborn infants. These surgeries mostly revolve around correcting birth defects and ensuring that the infant leads a long and healthy life.
- Oversee patients both pre-op and post-operation to ensure optimum health of both the mother and the baby.
- Educate patients as well as the family. This includes explaining the current situation, the suggested procedure, and laying down other treatment options in front of them.
- To provide emotional support both before and after surgery.
- A neonatal surgeon is also responsible for answering all relevant questions and doubts of the patient and their family in a calm, helpful, and non-judgmental manner.
- Attend training and seminars to stay updated with the latest trends and developments.
- Participate in various neonatal research activities
- Collaborate and work closely with physicians or other medical professionals (if needed)
To become a neonatal surgeon, one must undergo extensive learning and training. The educational requirements for the job of a neonatal surgeon include:
- Complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. During this time, aspiring neonatal surgeons must try to take human anatomy, microbiology, biology, and physiology coursework.
- After completing a bachelor’s degree, you must sit for your MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) to gain acceptance in medical college.
- Get a medical degree! While completing your medical degree, you must again focus on human anatomy, clinical applications, medical practices, and medical ethics.
- Complete a five-year-long surgical residency program after which you gain certification from the American Board of Surgery (ABS)
- Attend a fellowship program in either neonatal-perinatal or pediatric surgery fellowship. Completing this fellowship program will make you eligible to obtain a license for a neonatal surgeon job.
Salary and Career Outlook in the job of a neonatal surgeon
Working as a neonatal surgeon in the US, one can expect an average annual salary of $251,890 with approximately $121 per hour. These figures may vary slightly from state to state. Moreover, many hospitals and private practices now actively offer bonuses contingent upon the amount of caseload on a surgeon.
The prospects are also quite lucrative as far as the job of a neonatal surgeon is concerned. Recent studies indicate a 13% increase in available jobs. Not only this, but once you establish your name as an experienced neonatal surgeon, you will most likely be sought after by all nearby hospitals. Additionally, you also get a chance to teach other residents while at the same time continuing with your research as well.