Team DM

Specialists

Common Questions about Orthopedic Specialists

What is an orthopedic doctor? 

An orthopedic doctor, also known as an orthopaedist, is a medical doctor (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) who specializes in the musculoskeletal system—bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.

What is an orthopedic surgeon?

Orthopedic surgeons specialize in the musculoskeletal system; many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas of the body, such as foot and ankle, hand and wrist, or back, neck, and spine. Additionally, orthopedic doctors may focus on a specific field of orthopedics, like pediatrics, sports medicine, or trauma.

What is a "board-certified" orthopedic surgeon?

Once a doctor has completed an orthopedic residency at a major medical institution, the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery offers a written test to become board-eligible. If the written test is passed, the doctor becomes “eligible” to take the oral test, after two years in practice. When the doctor passes the oral exam, the doctor becomes “board-certified” and is considered a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

The intent of the certification process, as defined by the board members of the American Board of Medical Specialties, is to provide assurance to the public that a certified medical specialist has successfully completed an approved educational program and an evaluation, including an examination process designed to assess the knowledge, experience, and skills requisite to the provision of high-quality patient care in that specialty.

What is a "fellowship-trained" orthopedic surgeon?

A fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon is a doctor who has completed a minimum of 13 years of education and has completed an additional year of specialty training in a specific field of orthopedic surgery in an accredited fellowship program. There are fellowships in several areas of orthopedics: foot and ankle, hand and wrist, or back, neck and spine. Additionally, orthopedic surgeons may focus on a specific field of orthopedics, like pediatrics, sports medicine, or trauma.

What is the educational training of orthopedic surgeons?

Board-certified orthopedic surgeons:

Undergraduate: 4 years
Medical School: 4 years
Orthopedic Residency: 5 years at a major medical institution

Board-certified + fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons:

Undergraduate: 4 years
Medical School: 4 years 
Orthopedic Residency: 5 years at a major medical institution
Fellowship Training: 1 year of specialized education in an accredited fellowship program

Note: All orthopedic surgeons must continue their medical education yearly to stay current in orthopedic knowledge and skills.