Becoming An Orthopedic Surgeon
Finding out you need to have surgery can be an overwhelming prospect, especially if you’re already dealing with the trauma of an injury. An orthopedic surgeon is able to effectively treat your injury or health condition so you can recover and get back to a healthy, happy life more quickly. These specialized surgeons normally have an area of concentration. For instance, Dr. John Cory of the Arizona Institute of Motion is an expert in human motion that specializes in foot and ankle surgery with an emphasis on sports medicine. His additional education and training have enabled him to specialize in particular areas of medicine. The more you know about orthopedic surgeons and their role in healthcare, the easier it will be to understand what it means to become an orthopedic surgeon.
What is orthopedic surgery?
Orthopedic surgery is a branch of surgery that deals with the musculoskeletal system. Most often, orthopedic surgery is used to treat injuries, but it is also used to treat diseases, disorders, and infections that affect the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgery is often closely associated with sports injuries because most athletic injuries require orthopedic intervention. However, there are many reasons that orthopedic surgery may be necessary to treat a patient’s health needs.
The role of an orthopedic surgeon
An orthopedic surgeon is a trained and licensed health care professional who specializes in surgical procedures related to orthopedic surgery. You may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon if your injury is severe or if you have an injury that has not healed properly or quickly enough. Orthopedic surgeons have unique knowledge and skills that allow them to diagnose problems and determine how to repair injuries or address concerns of the musculoskeletal system. After surgery, an orthopedic surgeon will ensure that you are healing properly as well as address any complications that may arise during the recovery period. Many orthopedic surgeons specialize in a particular area of orthopedics, particularly since the musculoskeletal system is so large. For example, a foot and ankle specialist works primarily (or exclusively) on feet and ankles.
- Complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program in pre-medicine, biology, or a related field
- Complete four additional years of medical school
- Attend a 4- to 5-year orthopedic surgery residency in a hospital
The first year of residency entails general surgery, with the remaining years focused on orthopedic-specific training. Surgeons wishing to specialize further in subspecialties, such as orthopedic sports medicine or pediatric, must also complete a 1- to 2-year fellowship after their residency.
Orthopedic surgeons must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination to legally practice. This exam can be completed in several parts, usually while students are still involved in their residencies. After residency completion, orthopedic surgeons must also pass an exam by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, a division of the American Board of Medical Specialties, to be certified in their area of surgery. Every 7-10 years, recertification is required to remain certified.
Common Services Offered
There are many services that can be offered by an Orthopedic Surgeon. Below is a list of some common ortho services:
- Sports Medicine
- Foot and Ankle Injuries
- Traumatic Injuries
- Joint Surgeries
- Spinal Fusion
- Soft Tissue Repair
- Internal Fixation of Bones
- Knee Arthroscopy
- And More
The benefits of working as an orthopedic surgeon
Though it takes a great deal of education and preparation for the career, working as an orthopedic surgeon has many benefits.
There is a high demand for qualified orthopedic surgeons. Along with sports injuries and various illnesses, orthopedic surgeons are needed to treat injuries that commonly occur as patients get older. Medical breakthroughs have led to the ability for people to live longer, which increases the need for health care professionals who can provide for the medical needs of older adults.
Orthopedic surgeons help people heal. Many people decide to go into the field of health care so they can help people heal and feel better. Orthopedic surgeons have a direct hand in repairing injuries and treating conditions so that patients can live healthier and happier lives.
Orthopedic surgeons can specialize. The ability to specialize in a particular area of orthopedics means that surgeons can work in an area that they are passionate about. Being passionate about the job can make it more rewarding, even on days when the work is difficult or frustrating.
Orthopedic surgery is becoming more effective. As technology advances and research teaches doctors more about the body, orthopedic surgery is becoming more effective and innovative. That means that orthopedic surgeons can, at times, be on the cutting edge of medicine when providing care for their patients. Whether you’ve suffered an athletic injury or have a chronic condition, surgery can be an effective treatment so that you can return to your normal daily life. An orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle orthopedics has the knowledge and expertise needed to ensure that you will get the care you need to achieve your health goals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians and surgeons are among the highest of all occupation wages, with a median wage equal to or greater than $208,000 per year. Self-employed surgeons working in their own practice usually make a higher wage than a surgeon working for a salary at a hospital. It is a point to note that most self-employed surgeons will have to provide and pay for health insurance benefits themselves while surgeons working for a hospital will automatically receive health insurance as well as vacation time from their employer.
Becoming An Orthopedic Surgeon
It is crucial for an orthopedic surgeon to be able to work independently and perform surgery on their own from start to finish for an operation. The surgeon will put together an outline of what needs to be done for a patient and then decide just how much help they need in the operating room. It is their job to assemble the staff to work with them on each surgery in the form of nurses and assistants, who are also in charge of care for the patient after surgery. If you are someone that likes to have a hands-on approach, the ability to dictate who you will be working with, and how you would like to operate, you would be a great fit as an orthopedic surgeon. With comprehensive education and licensing, a career in ortho surgery comes with many extensive requirements but also boasts an attractive salary allowing financial flexibility with accompanying personal fulfillment.