Well, take this within the context that I come from a smaller institution. However, much of the intel I gathered came from a surgeon who worked for a long time in a very large and sought-after trauma-heavy center in Chicago. His sentiment was echoed when I spoke with our other local guys…
So, to paraphrase him - trauma surgery is not what it used to be, so don’t go thinking with an outdated concept that you want to do trauma surgery for a living.
It seemed that for him, and many of the others I’ve spoken with, the romance is gone (rather even the potential for romance) from what used to be trauma surgery. Now they’re general surgeons that baby-sit trauma patients.
And I’ve seen what he referred to to be true. Whereas at one time the trauma surgeon was the bad ass of the hospital, having hands-on nearly every trauma case - now the trauma surgeon is largely relegated to taking the same amount of call as before only to baby sit the patient and set up consults with the appropriate surgical specialties. In addition, depending on their “rank” within the echelons of their particular department, it can be an overly administrative course.
I think it comes down to the fact that they put in the same hours as before but don’t get to “play” as much - less true OR time. So much input for so little output that the surgeon hungers for. Obviously this will vary from campus to campus, but (and I believe this to come from a very reliable, very well based source), it’s just not worth it to do general surgery if your goal is to use that to be a trauma surgeon unless you absolutely love general surgery and don’t care if you hand off a lot of the trauma action to ortho, neuro, thoracic, vascular, etc.
What it boils down to I think is the lifestyle is probably quite similar (perhaps a bit worse on the trauma side depending where you’re at) but the trauma surgeon will see less action and act more like a hospitalist on a surgical service if that makes sense. I see our guys get called in for some pretty decent cases only to manage the course of their stay. They act as an extension of the emergency physician, taking over where the invasive expertise of the ED doc ends and surgical knowledge begins. So if that’s your cup of tea, by all means go for it, but for me, it wouldn’t be enough to just go in and “see” cases and act as a consultation manager (though I’m sure there are many occasions to assist on multi-trauma cases or to take charge of strict abdominal traumas).
I’m sure some different opinions will be added, but this is just the impression I’ve gathered working with and talking with our trauma surgeons.