Becoming an Orthopaedic Surgeon: What are your options?

February 5, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Orthopedic surgeons treat patients with a variety of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. Problems with the muscles and bones may be due to trauma, congenital conditions and sports related injuries. Doctors may treat conditions, such as fractures, torn ligaments, and ruptured discs.

Responsibilities of an Orthopedic Surgeon

The responsibilities of an orthopedic surgeon start with evaluating a patient’s condition; this may include taking a medical history and performing a physical exam. Doctors specializing in orthopedics also interpret diagnostic tests, such as CT scans and x-rays.

After diagnosing the problem, orthopedic surgeons develop a treatment plan. Although they are surgeons, not all treatment involves surgery. In some cases, medical management of the condition is possible without operating. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, about half the time, an orthopedic surgeon’s treatment involves non-surgical treatment options.

Training and education

If you’re interested in becoming an orthopedic surgeon, you should expect to be in training for many years; Orthopedic surgery is not a quick program. After earning a four-year degree, another four years of medical school is next. During med school, you’ll complete classes and clinical rotations in a variety of areas, such as critical care, psychiatry, and internal medicine. You’ll also have the opportunity to complete a surgery rotation, although it may be in general surgery, as opposed to orthopedics.

After graduating from med school, doctors interested in orthopedics need to complete a five-year residency. The first year of residency is spent in general surgery and the next four years are spent focusing on orthopedics.

Subspecialties in Orthopedics

Orthopedics can be a complex field, and various subspecialties have emerged. In order to specialize, further training in the form of a fellowship is usually required. The length of the fellowship may vary by subspecialty. To give you an idea of the options is orthopedics, consider some of the following subspecialties.

Foot and Ankle Surgery: Many different conditions and injuries can affect the foot and ankle. Orthopedic surgeons may specialize in treating injuries and conditions specifically affecting this area of the body.

Pediatric Orthopedics: Children with orthopedic conditions cannot be treated the same as adults. Since their bones and muscles are still growing, special consideration must be taken when treating their condition. Pediatric orthopedic doctors focus on caring for children with various orthopedic conditions.

Orthopedic Trauma: Injuries as a result of trauma (such as a car accident) often produce certain types of conditions. Orthopedic trauma surgeons may treat crushing injuries, traumatic amputations, and complex fractures.

Surgical Sports Medicine: Participating in sports can sometimes lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Common injuries may include torn ligaments, stress fractures, and dislocations. Surgical sports medicine doctors treat people with sports-related orthopedic injuries.

Spine Surgery: The spine is a complex area of the body. There are various conditions, which can develop with the discs, ligaments, bones and muscles. Orthopedic surgeons can choose to specialize and treat people with back and spine conditions.

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