Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital Alert: COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) information for patients and visitors LEARN MORE >>

What kind of training does an orthopedic surgeon have?

After earning their Bachelor's degree with undergraduate coursework in biology, chemistry, anatomy, or another related field, future orthopedic surgeons will complete four additional years of medical school, as well as an orthopedic surgery residency program.

An orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats conditions concerning the musculoskeletal system. They are required to undergo at least 14-15 years of formal education accompanied by extensive learning and training as follows:

  • four years of undergraduate education in college or university to get their Bachelor’s degree, followed by the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which is necessary for their admission to medical school
  • four years of medical school to obtain their Medical Degree. The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) ensues, which involves a three-step assessment of their medical knowledge, health care skills, and ability to work in an ambulatory setting
  • five years of residency training in Orthopedic Surgery in a major medical center, which consists of four years of orthopedic surgery training and one year of training in general surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, etc
  • one optional year of education in an orthopedic subspecialty, such as foot and ankle, hip, knee, spine, hand, shoulder and arm, pediatrics, or sports medicine. This training often includes a research specialization as well

After the orthopedic residency training, the candidates need to undergo two years of practice in the field before sustaining their final exam in order to become a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, which is part of the American Board of Medical Specialties. After successfully going through this two-step examination (written and oral), they will receive the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. This certification needs to be renewed every 7-10 years by sustaining a written and oral exam which will re-assess the surgeon’s proficiency in orthopedics.

Orthopedic surgeons who specialize in sports medicine and hand surgery can get additional qualifications if they pass a standardized examination. This Certificate of Added Qualifications is not available for other orthopedic subspecialties.


Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/