20 Types of Surgeons You Could Work with in the Operating Room

illustration of a surgeon being handed surgical tools

Surgical technologists are crucial members of the operating team. By pursuing this position, your job description will include duties that span from pre-surgery prep, to mid-surgery assistance and post-surgery clean up. But who are the doctors you’ll be supporting during your shifts? And what types of surgery will they be performing?

Sure, you know you’d be working with surgeons. But there are several types of surgeons who specialize in different types of surgery. To help you develop a better understanding of what’s out there, we’re dissecting 20 of the most common types of surgeons you may find yourself assisting as a surgical tech.

Examining 20 different types of surgeons

With so many surgical specialties out there, you could find yourself assisting with many different types of surgery. Learn more about the surgical specialists you might work with in the operating room.

1. General surgeon

As the name suggests, a general surgeon is a generalist who possesses an overall base of knowledge and understanding about anatomy, surgical procedures and post-operative care. The types of procedures performed will vary day-to-day based on patients’ needs, but typically their work focuses on the abdominal area. Often general surgeons work in trauma or critical care units to perform emergency surgical procedures.

2. Cardiothoracic surgeon

Surgeons who specialize in procedures involving the heart, lungs, esophagus and other organs within the chest fall under this category. These physicians are sometimes referred to as cardiac or cardiovascular surgeons.

3. Neurosurgeon

A neurosurgeon focuses on conditions affecting the central and peripheral nervous system of the body. These types of surgeons become experts in diseases and conditions that affect the brain and spine, and commonly help patients suffering from strokes and other degenerative conditions and infections.

4. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon

Dentists often refer patients to oral and maxillofacial surgeons for treatment requiring surgery on the mouth and jaw. Common procedures include wisdom tooth extraction, reconstructive surgery and dental implants.

5. Obstetric and gynecological surgeon

Women experiencing high-risk pregnancies or encountering other reproductive health issues may see a surgeon specializing in this type of care. Benign growths, cancerous tissue and infertility are typical conditions for which these surgical specialists may be needed.

6. Otolaryngology surgeon

When treatment involving the ears, nose or throat is needed, an otolaryngology surgeon will be called. In fact, they are frequently referred to as ear, nose and throat doctors. They perform different types of surgery on the larynx, sinuses, mouth, neck and face.

7. Ophthalmic surgeon

Specially trained to perform surgery on the eyes, ophthalmic surgeons handle procedures such as removing cataracts, repairing detached retinas, reshaping corneas, treating glaucoma and performing laser surgery.

8. Oculoplastic surgeon

Oculoplastic surgeons specialize in procedures involving the eye socket, eyelids, tear ducts and face near the eyes. This type of surgeon may perform a range of treatments from medically necessary reconstructive surgery to cosmetic procedures on the eyelids.

9. Pediatric surgeon

This surgical specialty is focused on caring for children. Pediatric surgeons work with a range of ages from infants to teens. Besides having medical expertise, these surgeons become experts in communicating with and relating to young patients.

10. Plastic surgeon

Plastic surgeons focus on the repair of defects to the skin and the underlying musculoskeletal structure of the body. These surgeons master techniques for the transplantation of tissues from one area of the body to another. They perform both medically necessary and cosmetic treatments.

11. Colon and rectal surgeon

These surgeons specialize in health issues related to the colon, rectum and intestinal system. They often treat patients with removal of polyps and cancerous tissue, as well as provide procedures for inflammatory bowel diseases.

12. Orthopedic surgeon

Orthopedic surgeons cover a broad range of issues related to the musculoskeletal system, including treatment of muscles, joints, bones, arteries and skin. After being trained in the overall study of orthopedic surgery, many surgeons in this field eventually develop a specialty in a more specific area such as spinal surgery or sports medicine.

13. Trauma surgeon

Trauma surgeons step into action when severely injured patients are rushed in to the emergency room. These physicians are prepared to perform several types of surgery depending on the patient’s condition. These surgeons are trained to work under the most intense circumstances to save lives when life and death hangs in the balance.

14. Urological surgeon

Providing treatment for the male genitourinary and female urinary systems, urological surgeons offer procedures for a variety of conditions such as incontinence, kidney stones and cancers. These surgeons also work with kidney, bladder, prostate and adrenal gland issues.

15. Vascular surgeon

This type of surgeon treats conditions affecting veins and arteries. Surgical procedures could be prescribed for aneurysms, blood clots or hardening of the arteries. Vascular surgeons are often brought in when a patient suffers a stroke or is thought to be a potential victim of one.

16. Bariatric surgeons

To help people fight obesity, bariatric surgeons perform different types of surgery, including gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and adjustable gastric bands. These procedures work by limiting the food intake that the stomach can hold.

17. Podiatric surgeons

When suffering from feet or ankle issues, this is the surgical specialist you may be referred to. Patients who have bunions, injuries and pain in their feet and ankles might find relief from the various procedures performed by this type of a podiatric surgeon.

18. Orthopedic hand surgeon

The human hand is a very intricate system, which is why some surgeons specialize solely in procedures involving the hand, wrist and forearm. They treat patients who have genetic conditions or those who suffer injuries to these areas.

19. Transplant surgeon

The science of transplanting an organ from a donor to another patient is a complicated one, so it requires a particular type of surgeon. The process is so intricate that most transplant surgeons specialize in a specific organ. The most commonly transplanted organs are kidneys, livers, hearts and lungs.

20. Endocrine surgeon

These surgeons are specialists in procedures to treat disorders of the endocrine glands, most often the thyroid gland, parathyroid glands and adrenal glands. They also treat patients with issues related to the neuroendocrine system.

Ready to assist these types of surgeons?

If you’re looking for a rewarding healthcare career with plenty of variety, becoming a surgical tech may be the perfect fit. Once you complete your training, there are several types of surgeons who need a passionate professional like you to assist them with their life-changing procedures.

Learn more about the opportunity that awaits in our article, “Enticing Reasons Why Becoming a Surgical Technologist Is Worth It.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2018. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020.

Callie Malvik

Callie is the Content Manager at Collegis Education, overseeing blog content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about creating quality resources that empower others to improve their lives through education.

female writer

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is a regionally accredited private university.

logo-accreditation-acenlogo-accreditation-ccnechart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters0 Credits90 Credits180 Credits48 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTSStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE’S DEGREEStart HereMASTER’S DEGREEPURSUERSEnd HereBACHELOR’S DEGREEEnd HereMASTER’S DEGREEchart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS90 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE180 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEchart-credential-laddering-healthcare-management0 Credits90 Credits180 Credits48 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTSStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE’S DEGREEStart HereMASTER’S DEGREEPURSUERSEnd HereBACHELOR’S DEGREEEnd HereMASTER’S DEGREEchart-credential-laddering-rsb0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS90 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE180 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEchart-credential-laddering-rsd0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS91 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE181 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEchart-credential-laddering-rsjs0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS91 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE180 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEchart-credential-laddering-rsn0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS91 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE181 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEicon-colored-outline-bankicon-colored-outline-certificateicon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-signicon-colored-outline-folder-searchicon-colored-outline-hand-hearticon-colored-outline-head-blocksicon-colored-outline-head-cogicon-colored-outline-head-hearticon-colored-outline-health-plus-leavesicon-colored-outline-hospitalicon-colored-outline-lifelong-learningicon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analyticsicon-colored-outline-maginify-glassicon-colored-outline-magnifying-glassicon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcareicon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-searchicon-colored-outline-nurse-raysicon-colored-outline-padlock-shieldicon-colored-outline-scalesicon-cameraicon-filtericon-info-circleicon-mail-forwardicon-play-solidicon-quote-mark-lefticon-quote-mark-righticon-share-square-oicon-spinnericon-taglogo-rasu-horizontalras-logo-flameras-logo-horizontalras-logo-stackedicon-bankicon-general-charticon-general-connecticon-general-degreeicon-general-discussicon-general-emailicon-general-findicon-general-haticon-general-hearticon-general-laptop-buildingicon-general-laptopicon-general-leadericon-general-mapicon-general-moneyicon-general-paperworkicon-general-peopleicon-general-phoneicon-general-speak-outicon-head-hearticon-mglassicon-scalesrebrand-arrowsicon-colored-advanceicon-colored-arrows-cross-curveicon-colored-briefcase-staricon-colored-buildicon-colored-bulb-analyticsicon-colored-certificateicon-colored-continual-developmenticon-colored-duo-chatboxicon-colored-folder-mortarboardicon-colored-globe-penicon-colored-growthicon-colored-hand-bubbleicon-colored-hand-starsicon-colored-head-blocksicon-colored-head-cogicon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscrapericon-colored-laptop-webpageicon-colored-location-mapicon-colored-location-pinicon-colored-monitor-paper-scanicon-colored-mortarboard-dollaricon-colored-nationalicon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxesicon-colored-person-whiteboardicon-colored-phone-chatboxicon-colored-police-lighticon-colored-prepicon-colored-presentericon-colored-regionalicon-colored-save-timeicon-colored-shirt-haticon-colored-skyscrapericon-colored-stateicon-colored-student-centeredicon-colored-supporticon-colored-world-experienceicon-simple-chaticon-simple-desktopicon-simple-findicon-simple-hamburgericon-simple-phoneicon-testimonial-quotesicon-social-facebook-square-coloredicon-social-facebook-squareicon-social-facebookicon-social-google-plus-squareicon-social-google-plusicon-social-instagramicon-social-linkedin-square-coloredicon-social-linkedin-squareicon-social-linkedinicon-social-pinterest-picon-social-twitter-squareicon-social-twittericon-social-youtube-play-coloredicon-social-youtube-playicon-util-checkbox-whiteicon-util-checkboxicon-util-checked-whiteicon-util-checkedicon-util-chevron-downicon-util-chevron-lefticon-util-chevron-righticon-util-chevron-upicon-util-language-switchicon-util-loadingicon-util-open-window-buttonicon-util-open-window-linkicon-util-pdf-buttonicon-util-pdf-linkicon-util-refreshicon-util-x