“So you want to become a COLORECTAL consultant surgeon” Career Pathways 5

Blog Post by Mr Nigel Hall, Colorectal Consultant Surgeon

·         What does the speciality offer?                 

Coloproctology encompasses a wide variety of  conditions (benign and malignant, acute and chronic, functional and organic, sporadic and hereditary, trivial and life threatening), in both sexes and all age groups, treatable through a range of techniques – open surgery, laparoscopic, transanal and endoscopic.  Our patients require holistic care and challenge us to improve their lives.  It is a stimulating and rewarding environment, and friendly too with a lot of multidisciplinary and team working. There is plenty of scope for research, teaching and training.  Coloproctology is the backbone of general surgery – and a major specialty in every hospital – you need look no further for a great job!

·         What is the career pathway to consultant stage? Any academic routes (if relevant)?                 

Most trainees come through the standard surgical SpR regional training programmes and tend to sub specialise in coloproctology in the last two years of training (ST5/6).  Although there is no mandate to do research, a higher degree will usually be necessary if you want to take up a teaching hospital post.  Many trainees also undergo a fellowship period of a year often outside the UK prior to taking up a consultant post.  There are now Academic Surgery run-through training posts which would be suitable for those wishing to pursue an academic career.

·         What can I do as a student to improve my chances of getting into this specialty?                 

As with all posts you need to be motivated to work hard, try to get some publications or audits under your name, and if possible get a clinical champion who can guide you through your career.  

·         What would you have done if you couldn’t do your speciality?                 

 Surgery definitely – maybe plastics or gynae oncology.  

·         What are the drawbacks to your specialty?                 

There is quite a lot of stress from the pressure of work, long hours, lack of time, overrunning clinics etc.  We have a lot of emergency work, which results in unpredictability of the working day/night.  This is not terribly good for the work-life balance and does impact on the family.  One has to be able to weather the complications such as anastomotic leak which are unavoidable but can be felt very personally.  

·         Useful books/ links?                           None – talk to one of us if you want some further advice. My email is nigel.r.hall@addenbrookes.nhs.uk.


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