Is becoming an orthopaedic surgeon right for me?

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Overview
What do orthopaedic surgeons do?
Career Satisfaction
Are orthopaedic surgeons happy with their careers?
Personality
What are orthopaedic surgeons like?

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How to become an Orthopaedic Surgeon

Becoming an orthopaedic surgeon is a challenging and highly competitive process that requires a significant amount of education, training, and dedication. Here are the typical steps required to become an orthopaedic surgeon:

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree: The first step to becoming an orthopaedic surgeon is to earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. There is no specific major required, but students should focus on pre-med courses and consider degrees such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
  • Attend Medical School: After completing a bachelor's degree, aspiring orthopaedic surgeons must attend medical school. Medical school typically takes four years to complete, and students will learn about a wide range of medical subjects, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology.
  • Complete an Orthopaedic Surgery Residency: After completing medical school, students must complete a five-year orthopaedic surgery residency program. During this program, students will receive hands-on training in all aspects of orthopaedic surgery, including trauma, sports medicine, joint replacement, and spinal surgery.
  • Consider a Fellowship: Some orthopaedic surgeons choose to pursue a fellowship after completing their residency. Fellowships offer additional training in a specific area of orthopaedic surgery, such as pediatric orthopaedics, sports medicine, or joint reconstruction.
  • Obtain Licensure: After completing their education and training, orthopaedic surgeons must obtain a medical license to practice in their state. This typically involves passing a series of exams, including the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).
  • Board Certification: Orthopaedic surgeons may choose to become board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). This requires passing a comprehensive exam and meeting other requirements.
  • Continue Education: Orthopaedic surgeons must maintain their knowledge and skills by participating in continuing education courses throughout their careers.

Board Certification
Board certification for orthopaedic surgeons is a voluntary process that involves passing a comprehensive exam and meeting other requirements established by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). Board certification is not required to practice as an orthopaedic surgeon, but it is highly recommended and may be necessary for certain employment opportunities.

To become board certified by the ABOS, an orthopaedic surgeon must:

  • Complete an Orthopaedic Surgery Residency: As mentioned earlier, completing a five-year orthopaedic surgery residency program is a requirement for becoming an orthopaedic surgeon.
  • Obtain a Medical License: Orthopaedic surgeons must hold a valid medical license to practice in their state.
  • Practice Orthopaedic Surgery: Orthopaedic surgeons must have at least two years of clinical experience in orthopaedic surgery after completing their residency.
  • Pass the Written and Oral Exams: The ABOS offers both written and oral exams to evaluate an orthopaedic surgeon's knowledge and skills. The written exam is typically taken after completing residency, and the oral exam is taken after at least two years of clinical practice.
  • Meet Other Requirements: Orthopaedic surgeons must meet other requirements established by the ABOS, including participating in continuing education, completing a certain number of surgical cases, and maintaining a certain level of professionalism.

Orthopaedic surgeons who are board certified must also participate in a maintenance of certification (MOC) program to maintain their certification. The MOC program includes continuing education, self-assessment, and a periodic examination.