How to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon

Written by

Ray Grant Walden


August 14, 2014


Orthopedic surgery is a surgical discipline that focuses on treating conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons are trained professionals that are experts in surgical and non-surgical treatments of a variety of musculoskeletal conditions.

What does an Orthopedic Surgeon do?

Orthopedic surgeons are concerned with diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system including the bones, joints, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They treat conditions such as musculoskeletal trauma, arthritis, degenerative diseases, sports injuries, fractures, congenital conditions, tumors, and infections. They strive to preserve and restore the functions of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons use a variety of surgical techniques such as lasers to remove torn cartilage and arthroscopic surgery scopes for treating damaged joints. Orthopedic surgeons collaborate with other healthcare professionals and they accept patient referrals. They examine medical records and discuss treatment options with patients.

What kind of training does an Orthopedic Surgeon need?

Orthopedic surgeons must complete a bachelor degree, a medical degree, internships, and residency training. Medical school provides intensive medical instruction and clinical rotations. After medical school prospective orthopedic surgeons must complete an internship. They then must complete an orthopedic surgery residency that includes 1 year of general surgery training and 4 years of orthopedic training. Some orthopedic surgeons complete fellowships after residency training to specialize in a specific area such as pediatric orthopedics, hand surgery, spine surgery, orthopedic trauma, and sports medicine. Orthopedic surgeons must be licensed to practice and become board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). They must complete continuing education on a regular basis to maintain their license and certification and keep their skills up to date. Orthopedic surgeons must also pass a recertification test every 7 to 10 years.

What are the prospects for a career as an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Employment of all surgeons is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% through 2016. The growing and aging population and increased need for orthopedic care will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for orthopedic surgeons with extensive experience and board certification. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace orthopedic surgery that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do Orthopedic Surgeons make?

As of 2015, the middle 50% of orthopedic surgeons earn annual salaries between $310,276 and $497,585. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $579,772.

A career as an orthopedic surgeon is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in orthopedics and performing a variety of surgical procedures. Orthopedic surgeons must have a solid understanding of orthopedic surgery. Manual dexterity, patience, eye-hand coordination, and determination are desirable characteristics. Orthopedic surgeons must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to interact with many different patients and healthcare professionals. They must be able to effectively work as part of a team.

Becoming an Orthopedic Surgeon Requires Training, Start Today

Are you serious about becoming an Orthopedic Surgeon ? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  Ray Grant Walden

Ray Grant Walden attended American University College and now lives in Houston. He has enjoyed a very exciting career and has experience in a wide variety of professions, including college counseling.

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