Skip to main content
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education


"Surgery, the treatment of disease by operation, is often definitive therapy — many times curative — for a broad range of conditions affecting all organ systems. The general surgeon treats diseases of the entire body, from the skin to the blood vessels, to the liver, and beyond. The surgical subspecialties focus on specific body regions, that is, cardiothoracic surgeon address problems of the heart, lungs, and other organs within the thorax (chest), whereas other specialties focus on certain body systems or patient populations, that is, vascular surgeons operate on arteries and veins and pediatric surgeons operate primarily on infants and children. No matter the subspecialty, surgeons are knowledgeable in critical care, and often care for their own critically ill patients in the ICU.”

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 223.

Show All Answers

M1 and M2 Students

  • What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?

    Students can participate in clinical shadowing with attending surgeons. The process is simple: Pick a surgeon who practices in an area that interests you, and email the surgeon and ask if there are opportunities to shadow. When there is an opportunity, be prompt and show interest when you are with the surgeon. If you find you want to work further in the area, ask the for available clinical or research projects to participate in. Students can join the surgery interest group, the Loyal Davis Surgical Society. The group offers several insightful activities that are both educational and fun. Students can also reach out to surgery residents, as they can provide valuable information about available research opportunities with faculty surgeons.

  • How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

    Research is important but not essential. A completed project separates good applications from strong applications. Having a CV that shows completed research projects indicate to the reader important personal traits including enthusiasm, dedication, perseverance, dependability and the ability to see things through.

M3 and M4 Students

Surgery Resources

Request a Surgery Adviser

Nabil Issa, MD 
Surgery Career Advising Coordinator
View Profile

For More Information

Department of Surgery
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
251 E. Huron
Chicago, IL 60611-2923
Phone: 312-926-8060