Orthopaedic Surgery Career Guide: Qualifications, Job Description & Career Prospects

December 23, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities


Orthopaedic surgeons are specially trained in evaluating, preserving and restoring the structure and function of the spine and its extremities as well as any associated structures that have been affected. Orthopaedic surgeons can help in correcting a wide range of health issues associated with the musculoskeletal system. This includes congenital deformities, sports injuries and deformities, metabolic disturbances and trauma as well as degenerative diseases that manifest in the shoulders, spine, elbows, knees, hips and feet.

As an orthopaedic surgeon, you will be spending most of your work hours performing surgeries in the operating room.  You could do both minor as well as major surgeries.

Minor surgeries are usually done on an outpatient basis and could range from casting bones to arthroscopic surgery.

Major surgeries range from joint replacements and repairing shattered bones to doing spine surgery.

Surgeons at Iringa Regional performing a C-section Orthopaedic surgeon workplaces

Orthopaedic surgeons can work for hospitals, clinics or in a private practice. If you are working at a hospital, you will be required to be on call some nights and weekends too, especially when there are high trauma loads.

In addition to the operating room, these professionals also spend several hours doing office visits where they remove casts, fit patients for braces, do consults with new patients and follow up sessions with current patients. While you may enjoy working just 4 to 4 ½ days a week as an orthopaedic surgeon, these 4 days will usually be very long days. Several statistical reports show that just about 40% of all surgeons work more than 50 hours every week.

This is a specialty where it is crucial to always be up to date with the latest surgical techniques and attending conferences and seminars is an essential part of this profession.

A lot of orthopaedic surgeons do pro-bono clinical work and participate in volunteerism.

Training Requirements

In order to become an orthopaedic surgeon, you must first complete a medical school program. You will then complete a 4 to 5 year residency in orthopaedic surgery. If you choose to practice a subspecialty, you also need to complete a 1 to 2 year fellowship.

Subspecialties include:

The orthopaedic curriculum in the UK is set and governed by the Intercollegiate Surgical Curriculum Programme.

Orthopaedic Surgeon Salary

The average annual salary for an orthopaedic surgeon in the UK is about £140,000 with a starting salary of approximately £105,000 to £162,400 at the higher end for a more experienced surgeon. The average hourly salary is about £70, which varies depending on the number of years of experience, the chosen sub-specialty, type of work setting and the geographical location

Career Outlook

A career in this specialty is very rewarding and satisfying as it allows you to actually see the physical improvements in your patients. As an orthopaedic surgeon you will always be in demand in any healthcare settings that includes surgery of any type, from routine bone setting to trauma and emergency wards.

Contact us on Facebook or Twitter, or email info@gapmedics.com

Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.