Types of Surgeons You Might Work With

Surgeons at work

If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, you’ll have a range of specializations to choose from. For example, some nurses specialize in supporting doctors during surgery. To pursue this type of career, you won’t need a surgery degree. Instead, you’ll earn your nursing degree, pass the licensure exam, obtain specialized training in surgical room procedures and then perhaps earn an advanced certification in your desired specialty from a professional organization such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). While you’re exploring your degree options, take the time to explore the different types of surgery specializations to familiarize yourself with your future work environment.

General Surgeon

General surgery is a broad specialty. These surgeons are trained to care for the whole patient, and they can perform a broad range of surgeries. General surgeons possess in-depth knowledge and skills for the diagnosis, preoperative, operative and postoperative care of patients.

Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic surgeons specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. In other words, they focus on the surgical treatment of problems of the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and bones. An orthopedic surgeon may treat patients with everything from congenital deformities to such as cerebral palsy to joint trauma occurring from athletic injuries, falls and accidents.

Trauma Surgeon

A trauma surgery team works on severely injured patients who are rushed into the ER or into a trauma center. These patients have typically been critically injured during motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, acts of violence and sports-related incidents. Complicated bone fractures, internal injuries, burn injuries, shock and puncture wounds are all common injuries treated in trauma centers.

Trauma surgery teams work under very high-stress conditions. In order to be an effective trauma nurse, an individual must be able to remain calm under pressure and to think clearly despite the life-threatening nature of the injuries. Trauma center nurses must be skilled at rapid assessments and prioritization, as their patients often have multiple injuries and require urgent care.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Not all surgical nurses work in hospitals. Some of them work in surgical centers, where they assist oral and maxillofacial surgeons during procedures. These medical professionals treat patients with disorders and injuries related to the jaw, cheeks, and facial structures. For example, they might perform orthognathic surgery to correct jaw misalignments. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons can also treat cleft palate, oral tumors, oral cysts and impacted wisdom teeth. While they do not administer radiation therapy or chemotherapy, oral and maxillofacial surgeons can provide surgical treatment of oral cancer.

Unlike many other surgical specialties, oral and maxillofacial surgery isn’t only focused on health and function. It also involves aesthetic considerations. For example, when performing surgery to remove oral cancer, the surgeon will strive to preserve as much of the facial structure as possible for the sake of the patient’s appearance. Of course, the first priority is always the patient’s health.

Obstetric and Gynecological Surgeon

For aspiring nurses with a passion for women’s healthcare, a role supporting obstetric and gynecological surgeons can be ideal. These surgeons typically work with women with experiencing high-risk pregnancies as well as those who require a C-section. However, they also work with patients who are experiencing medical problems related to the female reproductive system. These can range from uterine fibroids to ovarian cancer, along with cervical and endometrial disorders as well as gynecological infections.

Nurses who work in this specialty are typically highly empathetic individuals who can display compassion and understanding when working directly with patients. Clear communication is also a must, as is an in-depth knowledge of women’s health issues.


Neurosurgery is a particularly delicate specialty. Neurosurgeons treat patients with disorders, illnesses and injuries pertaining to the central, peripheral and autonomic nervous systems, including the brain and brainstem. If you decide to pursue a nursing career in neurosurgery, you will likely work with patients who have suffered from intracranial aneurysms, brain injuries, brain tumors, disc herniation and spinal fractures.

Often, procedures within this specialty are performed on a non-emergent basis. However, neurosurgery teams may sometimes need to act quickly to respond to emergencies such as the sudden compression of the spinal cord or a severe brain injury caused by a car accident.

Otolaryngology Surgeon

An otolaryngologist is often referred to colloquially as a “head and neck doctor” or an “ears, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.” They treat patients who have medical problems of the ears, nose, throat, head and neck. Otolaryngology surgery teams may remove tumors, correct cleft palates, remove polyps and address a deviated septum, among other medical problems. They can also treat patients with hearing loss, balance disorders, deviated sinuses and ringing in the ears.

The vast variety of types of surgeons is good for any student looking to enter the field. It allows for students to specialize in areas of interest. The ability to work in these specialized areas with a nursing degree opens more opportunity’s when you pass your licensure exam.

Grand Canyon University is known for delivering world-class nursing and medical science education to traditional students as well as actively working professionals. The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions offers a range of nursing degrees to choose from, such as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Pre-Licensure) degree and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program. Begin your journey to a rewarding career in healthcare by clicking on Request Info above.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.