What is an Orthopedic Surgeon?
How are they trained and certified?
Orthopedic surgeons, like all physicians toil through 4 years of medical school. An M.D. degree is awarded, but a doctor is not yet permitted to practice independently. In the last year of medical school, one decides upon the specialized area of medicine for which they will train. This could be pathologist, brain surgeon, primary care specialist or any of the many options. After deciding to be a doctor, this is the second most important career choice we encounter. This period of training is called “residency.” The first year of residency is known as “internship.” Internship allows us to work across specialties, but after that, one trains specifically for one’s area of specialization. Residency varies in length, an orthopedic residency is 5 years.
The next option is that of “sub-specialization.” Sub-specialization is a further year (or more) of training, further focusing one’s expertise. This is referred to as “fellowship” training. Sports medicine, total joint surgery, hand and spine surgery are examples of fellowship programs.
Dr. Bill Nordt, OrthoVirginia