So You Want to Be a Rocket Surgeon (April Fools’ Day)


So you want to be a rocket surgeon. You think rocket science and neurosurgery are too pedestrian and elementary and are craving the most prestigious, challenging, and egocentric specialty. Let’s debunk the public perception myths, and give it to you straight. This is the reality of rocket surgery.


What is Rocket Surgery?

Neurosurgeons and rocket scientists are often held in high regard as benchmark careers that require highly intelligent, skilled, and driven individuals. These accolades are well earned. Not only do they perform complicated and specialized jobs, but their roles are also massively important. While brain surgery and rocket science are impressive, they have nothing at all to do with the actual combination of rocket surgery.

Rocket surgery is the pinnacle of pinnacles, the top of the top, and the best and the brightest. When someone tells you “it’s not brain surgery” or “it’s not rocket science”, you retort “of course it isn’t, but is it rocket surgery?”

Rocket surgeons take the mathematical prowess of a rocket scientist and marry it with the God-complex of a neurosurgeon, culminating in a never before witnessed level of egocentrism.

Rocket surgeons perform surgery on humans and other living creatures while aboard rockets, but also conduct surgery on the rocket itself.

Surgery on organisms inside rockets includes more terrestrial and elementary procedures like Whipple’s, also known as pancreaticoduodenectomies, or microsurgical free tissue flaps in complex bony and soft tissue reconstruction.

Rocket surgeon prowess is better exhibited, however, on more cutting edge procedures, like central nervous system transplants, such as the first human-to-goldfish brain transplant. And yes, that goldfish went on to accomplish great things.

Surgery on the rocket itself includes repair of propulsion and guidance systems as well as balancing aerodynamics and aesthetics. The only thing more important than how fast your rocket actually goes is how fast it looks like it goes. What’s the point of being in outer space if you can’t do it in style anyway?


How to Become a Rocket Surgeon

If you thought being a rocket scientist or neurosurgeon was challenging, then you might want to sit down. Few things can adequately prepare you for the arduous journey culminating in the explosive glory of becoming a rocket surgeon.

Just like any other medical specialty, 4 years of medical school is required to earn your MD. But in addition, you must demonstrate sufficient proficiency in mathematics, physics, and aerodynamics-related subjects through some postgraduate level training. Most rocket surgeons major in some form of engineering in college, only to later earn a PhD in aerospace engineering.

After 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 4 years of PhD, rocket surgeons must complete a 10-year rocket surgery residency. If you don’t have gray hair by the time you graduate from the combination of aging and chronic stress, then something’s amiss.

How competitive is rocket surgery? Let’s just say this – rocket surgery makes tier 1 specialties like dermatology and plastic surgery seem like a cakewalk. Rocket surgeons are born, not made.

If the sum of your Step 1 score plus hip thrust 1 rep max squared doesn’t exceed the distance of the earth to the moon by a factor of 2, it’s likely not a good fit.

If an applicant isn’t at the top of their class at every stage, their application is immediately thrown in the waste bin. We’re not just talking about college and medical school either. Rocket surgery applications go all the way back to kindergarten and elementary school, to food eating contests, and even your Apgar scores as a newborn.

Pass/fail has no place in the training of a rocket surgeon. Only numerical scores are appropriate, and the only number that counts is 100%.

Students that pursue rocket surgery are, for lack of better terms, geniuses. They’re the students who finished the calculus exam 30 minutes early while holding the pencil between the toes of their non-dominant foot, and of course scoring a perfect 100%… while in 3rd grade.

These qualities are best exhibited by former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. After turning an RV into a boat and driving it from the roof using oven mitts, he proclaimed, “I honestly believe that sometimes my genius… it generates gravity.” Immediately after, he lost complete control of the gears, throttle, and brakes but survived to tell the tale.


Subspecialties within Rocket Surgery

If you live through rocket surgery residency, you will further subspecialize with fellowship.

Fellowships for other specialties are optional; however, every single rocket surgeon to date has completed at least one fellowship. This is best explained by the fact that they’re all gunners.

To specialize in space monkey surgery, you’ll complete a 2-year fellowship teaching you how to operate on monkeys in space – mostly in a rocket, but also in other extraterrestrial conduits. The first year will be spent learning how to perform basic surgical procedures on space monkeys.

The second year will be spent on more complex procedures in addition to learning how to dodge monkey excrement in zero-gravity while maintaining a sterile surgical field.

Aesthetic rocket surgery is a 2-year fellowship that will teach you how to make rockets and the people within them look beautiful with elective procedures. It is the most competitive and lucrative out of all the rocket surgery subspecialties. Practices are cash-based and therefore are immune to changes in insurance reimbursement.

Need a stat breast augmentation while circling Uranus? What about an emergent rocketplasty before your date at the International Space Station? Aesthetic rocket surgeons can do both – at the same time.


What You’ll Love About Rocket Surgery

There’s a lot to love about rocket surgery.

To start, rocket surgeons have higher than average compensation. The average salary for academic rocket surgeons is $420,000 and $690,000 for those in private practice.

Rocket surgery is also the most prestigious career in both medicine and engineering. After completing fellowship, many rocket surgeons go on to pursue law degrees as well so they can be the fabled doctor-engineer-lawyer that every parent dreams of.

Rocket surgery is also highly intellectual and highly procedural – which is hard to find in most careers or even other specialties in medicine.


What You Won’t Love About Rocket Surgery

That being said, rocket surgery isn’t for everyone.

If you’re uncomfortable with people of both sexes constantly throwing themselves at you, rocket surgery may not be a good fit. It’s hard to have a family when you’re so sexy and impressive as a human being that everyone wants a piece of you.

Speaking of family, rocket surgeons spend 25 hours a day performing surgery so work-life balance can be difficult – not for rocket surgeons, but for their families. If your family wants to see for you more than 2 minutes a year (and that bothers you) then rocket surgery isn’t for you.

Rocket surgery is also the most competitive medical and engineering discipline in existence. Every board-certified rocket surgeon is an objectively perfect human being.

How do you hide $100 from an internal medicine doctor? You put it under the dressings. How do you hide $100 from an orthopedic surgeon? Place it in a book. How do you hide $100 from a neurosurgeon? Give it to their kids. And how do you hide $100 from a rocket surgeon? You put it in a second-place trophy.


Should You Become a Rocket Surgeon?

How can you decide if rocket surgery is right for you?

If you are personally offended by the phrase “nobody’s perfect,” rocket surgery might be for you.

You should love rockets and medicine and be willing to devote your entire being to both.

You should also have a work ethic and hip thrust that transcends human understanding.

If you can do that, then you will be blessed with a career that is, quite literally, out-of-this-world.

Are you hoping to become a rocket surgeon? To get into a rocket surgery residency, you’ll need to be at the top of your class in everything, from standardized tests and class exams to food eating contests and barbell hip thrusts, and everything between.

As you look at resources and companies to work with, seek out those who are actual MD rocket surgeons, not PhDs that mislead you into believing they are clinical physicians or fake surgeons that didn’t go to rocket surgery school. Look for those who have achieved stellar results themselves, a track record of success with positive ratings from aspiring rocket surgeons, and a systematic approach so you know you’ll always receive the best service. If you decide on Med School Insiders, we’d love to be a part of your journey in becoming a future rocket surgeon.

Happy April Fools’ Day! If you enjoyed this article, check out So You Want to Be a Neurosurgeon or another specialty on our So You Want to Be series.


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