What kind of extra training do Orthopedic surgeons generally need to have? 

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Road to Med School

The journey is long and arduous to become a medical specialist. The first step is to earn your Bachelor of Science that must include a heavy dose of math, chemistry, and biology courses. During the fall of your Junior Year, a student, intent on medical school, should research the MCAT or Medical College Admission Test. There are practice tests available online that test one’s knowledge of physical and biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and writing skills. As of 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) added a section titled Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.

You must do well on the seven-hour and thirty-minute test ($320 basic cost), as medical schools use the score as a predictor of one’s success in medicine. Each section receives a grade from 118 to 132, with 500 being the mean score. The highest possible score is 528 – a score of 509 places you in the 80th percentile.

Med School

Confident your MCAT will provide acceptance to a medical school in the U.S. – you should start researching prospective schools. According to the Princeton Review, some schools offer a collaborative atmosphere, whereas others are highly competitive and pressure-packed. The geographical location, cost of living, student life, graduation rate, specialties, and tuition are all factors to consider. Do not confine schools to a handful – students applying to med schools in 2019-20 applied to an average of 17 institutions. It would be best if you were cautious of schools whose four-year graduation rate is below the national average of 83%.

RELATED: How Long Does It Take to Become a Doctor?

For the future orthopedic surgeon, he/she should concentrate on med schools recognized for their surgery programs. Within these programs, look at its research capabilities, designing surgical tools, and implementing innovative surgical methods. Find out if the professors have published peer-reviewed papers on surgical techniques in respected medical journals.

The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery began in 1902 under the direction of Dr. Albert Freiberg – an 1890 graduate of UC med school. Today, its recognition continues with clinical research programs in the subspecialties of Sports Medicine and Biomedical Engineering. The school also has a five-year orthopaedic residency program for graduate doctors from medical school.


Upon graduation from medical school, students become an M.D. or Doctor of Medicine. Before being eligible to practice medicine, doctors must complete at least one year of internship and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination or USMLE. It is a three-step exam to assess the physician’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes about patient care. The USMLE site offers practice materials and content description of each step.

Matching your specialty, in this case, orthopedics, with the residency program, is advisable. One of the top choices, based on the survey of 72,500 physicians, is the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. MassGeneral provides teaching and treatment for hip and knee arthritis, sports injuries, spinal deformities, musculoskeletal tumors, and more.

The Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program at Washington University (St. Louis) and Barnes-Jewish Hospital ranked #3 by U.S. News. During the five-year residency, doctors rotate through twelve different services at five clinical care facilities and two outpatient centers. The training begins with the Intern Year when you have six months of orthopaedic surgery, followed by four months of General Surgery. As a resident, you also have research sessions during surgical skills months.


Specialists in this field may opt to pursue a sub-specialty, for example, in spinal surgery. A fellowship follows medical school and residency; it typically takes one to two years to complete a medical fellowship. Washington University offers training fellowships in ten concentrations, examples are:

  • Foot and Ankle
  • Pediatric and Adolescent
  • Shoulder and Elbow
  • Sports Medicine
  • Spine
  • Trauma

Individuals who want to enter a specialized practice, such as joint arthroplasty, will benefit from the additional training in a fellowship program. The Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California has a one-year Joint Arthroplasty Fellowship. Fellows gain valuable clinical experience in the management of surgical and nonoperative arthritis of the knee and hip. USC also has five other orthopedic fellowships, and each has a stipend of $65,000 plus benefits.


Many professions have specialty areas, such as law, finance, and engineering, which demand additional years of study, training, and hands-on experience. Advanced studies in a medical specialty raise the necessity since the patient places his/her life in the hands of the surgical team. In a sub-specialty as spinal surgery, the expertise of the orthopedic surgeon may decide the extent of a patient’s mobility. In these situations, both the patient and the surgeon will be grateful for the extra years of residency and fellowship.

Editor’s Note:

Most colleges, universities, and residency programs spell the word orthopedic as orthopaedic. The latter version is standard in the United Kingdom; however, the majority of professional organizations use the “ae” letters. For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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