The road of training to become an orthopaedic surgeon is a long one. The entire process takes 13 years: 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 5 years of residency. Those who are accepted to a subspecialty fellowship program will do an additional year of specialty training in a specific field of orthopaedic surgery, for example if a fellow wants to become a shoulder surgeon, he or she obtains a fellowship in shoulder surgery. This means that the fellow is an expert in performing procedures related to the shoulder.
As with all professions, one must finish high school and go to college. In college one must take a premedical curriculum, which focuses on the basic sciences. Due to the number of applicants to medical school, the application process is extremely competitive. Medical school takes four years to complete. Once in medical school the pressure only intensifies. Grades, board examination scores, and class rank are very important because orthopaedic surgery is one of the most competitive and highly sought after fields in medicine.
After being accepted, orthopaedic surgery residency is five years long. During those five years the focus is on general orthopaedic training. As surgeons, it is extremely important to master not only book knowledge but also surgical skills, as many procedures require good hand-eye coordination. Once an orthopaedic surgeon has finished the five years of residency he/she can choose to go into practice as a general orthopaedic surgeon or can apply for acceptance to a subspecialty fellowship. Dr. Jeffrey M. Conrad, knee, shoulder, and sports medicine physician, says, “I was accepted for fellowship training at Duke University in Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery. This additional full year of training afforded me the opportunity to train with nationally recognized experts, as well as concentrate and master knowledge with special surgical techniques.”
There are fellowships in all areas of orthopaedics: sports medicine, spine, hand, foot and ankle, total joints, etc. Accredited fellowship programs are one additional year of training above and beyond the five years of orthopaedic surgery training. In essence, fellowship training gives the physician extra training in that specific subspecialty.
The Orthopaedic Group is home to the area’s largest group of fellowship-trained physicians. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with one of our fellowship-trained experts, contact The Orthopaedic Group, P.C. at (251) 450-2746.