how long does it take to become an orthopedic surgeon


Embarking on the journey to become an orthopedic surgeon is a testament to dedication, passion, and a commitment to mastering the intricacies of musculoskeletal health. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the educational and training path required, answering the burning question: How long does it take to become an orthopedic surgeon?

Understanding the Ascent to Orthopedic Expertise

How Long Does It Take to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon? Becoming an orthopedic surgeon is a demanding but rewarding process that involves rigorous education, hands-on training, and specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. Here, we delve into the steps that aspiring orthopedic surgeons undertake to master their craft.

The Educational Odyssey

Undergraduate Education:

  • Aspiring orthopedic surgeons typically begin their journey with a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field. This undergraduate phase generally takes four years to complete.

Medical School:

  • The next step involves earning a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Medical school typically spans four years and includes both classroom education and clinical rotations.

Orthopedic Residency:

  • Following medical school, graduates enter an orthopedic surgery residency program. Residency in orthopedic surgery lasts approximately five years and offers hands-on training in various subspecialties, including trauma, sports medicine, and joint replacement.

Fellowship (Optional):

  • While not mandatory, some orthopedic surgeons choose to pursue additional fellowship training to further specialize in a particular area, such as pediatric orthopedics, sports medicine, or spinal surgery. Fellowships generally last one to two years.

Training in Orthopedic Subspecialties

Orthopedic surgery encompasses a broad spectrum of subspecialties, each requiring additional training. Here are some common subspecialties and their training durations:

  • Spine Surgery: Fellowship – 1 to 2 years
  • Sports Medicine: Fellowship – 1 to 2 years
  • Pediatric Orthopedics: Fellowship – 1 to 2 years
  • Joint Replacement: Fellowship – 1 to 2 years

The Road to Board Certification

Upon completing residency and, if chosen, fellowship training, orthopedic surgeons often seek board certification from the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) or other relevant boards. Board certification requires passing written and oral exams, showcasing the surgeon’s proficiency in the field.

FAQs: Navigating the Orthopedic Journey

Q1: How Long Does It Take to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon?

No, becoming an orthopedic surgeon requires completing a bachelor’s degree, followed by four years of medical school, and then a five-year orthopedic surgery residency. The entire journey typically takes around 13 years after high school.

Q2: Is a fellowship necessary to become an orthopedic surgeon?

While not mandatory, fellowships provide an opportunity for further specialization and expertise in a specific orthopedic subspecialty. Many orthopedic surgeons opt for fellowships to enhance their skills and knowledge.

Q3: Can I practice as an orthopedic surgeon without board certification?

While it is possible to practice as an orthopedic surgeon without board certification, obtaining certification is widely encouraged as it signifies a surgeon’s commitment to maintaining high standards of care and expertise.

Q4: How Long Does It Take to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedic surgery residencies are highly competitive, and aspiring orthopedic surgeons often need to demonstrate exceptional academic achievements, clinical skills, and a genuine passion for the field to secure a spot.

Q5: Are there alternative paths to becoming an orthopedic surgeon?

The traditional path involves completing medical school and residency. However, some individuals pursue alternative routes, such as transitioning from another surgical specialty or completing a combined residency in orthopedic surgery and another field.


How Long Does It Take to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon? Becoming an orthopedic surgeon is a journey that demands unwavering dedication and a thirst for knowledge. From the foundational years of undergraduate education to the culmination of residency and, optionally, fellowship training, orthopedic surgeons navigate a comprehensive educational odyssey. The pursuit of excellence in musculoskeletal care is not just a career choice; it is a calling that requires years of commitment, shaping individuals into skilled practitioners ready to tackle the challenges of orthopedic surgery with precision and expertise.

By Alice

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