How to Become an Orthopedist

Orthopedists are specialized physicians that focus their careers on treating and diagnosing individuals experiencing musculoskeletal problems.

The musculoskeletal system includes the bones, ligaments, nerves, tendons and joints.

Orthopedists primarily treat individuals whose mobility is restricted due to injuries or ailments affecting areas such as the feet, hips or knees.

Individuals who want to become an Orthopedist will need to attain an in depth understanding of the musculoskeletal system.

In addition, some helpful skills and personal characteristics such as physical stamina, patience, compassion and being detail oriented will help individuals succeed in this field.

Education Requirements to Become an Orthopedist

Individuals who want to become an Orthopedist will need several years of postsecondary schooling starting with a bachelor’s degree.

Individuals must then attend medical school, attain a license in order to treat patients and complete a residency.

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Those just beginning their undergraduate degree are encouraged to study a science related field to help them enter medical school to become an Orthopedist.

Some recommended majors include biology or microbiology.

There are no specific majors required to attend a medical school, however, because entry into a medical school is highly competitive, individuals are encouraged to study biology or microbiology or a pre-med degree.

Individuals who did not complete one of these degrees are encouraged to take classes focusing on math and sciences including: mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, social sciences and English.

Once an individual begins medical school, they will spend time focusing on classroom and laboratory work as well as time gaining hands on experience.

The first two years of medical school typically include completing laboratory and classroom work in areas such as: anatomy, pharmacology, medical ethics, biochemistry and psychology.

During the last two years of medical school, individuals will have the opportunity to work individually with patients in several areas through clinical rotations.

Rotations are supervised by a licensed physician; medical students will alternate between several areas in medicine which may include: internal medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, family practice or surgery.

After completing medical school, individuals must then become licensed in order to practice in their field.

Licensure requirements will vary by state and will need to be completed before an individual enters a residency program in orthopedics.

A residency program may take years to complete but is a training program in which individuals will learn their specialty by being able to practice in their field.

Orthopedist Job Description

Orthopedists are licensed physicians who work with patients to treat a variety of musculoskeletal problems including deformities or injuries.

Orthopedists specialize in providing healthcare that focuses on helping individuals use their extremities to enable their mobility.

These professionals will also work with patients to provide preventative care that lowers the risk for musculoskeletal injuries or diseases.

They do this by repairing bones and working with ligaments, joints, tendons and nerves to promote a healthy musculoskeletal system.

Individuals entering this field have the option to choose a specialization with orthopedics such as: sports medicine, pediatric orthopedics, reconstructive orthopedics or musculoskeletal oncology.

Individuals may also specialize in a specific part of the body such as the spine, hands or feet.

Orthopedist Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median salary for physicians and surgeons who worked in a medical specialty, such as orthopedics, was approximately $396,233 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including years of experience, whether an individual owns their own practice and their geographical location.

The job outlook for all physicians and surgeons, including Orthopedists is expected to grow faster than average when compared to other professions.

Job opportunities are expected to grow by 18 percent through the year 2022.

This job growth is attributed to the expansion of healthcare industries that allow more individuals to receive healthcare services and treatment.

Individuals who want to focus their career as an Orthopedist can expect to use their educational background and skills to help their patients overcome a variety of musculoskeletal problems or diseases.

In addition, because it is a specialization in medicine, these professionals are also some of the highest paid.

Individuals entering this profession can expect a challenging career and the opportunity to work with a variety of individuals needing treatment.

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