Career Development

Orthopedic Surgeon Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Orthopedic surgeons are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. They are trained to treat conditions of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.

Orthopedic surgeons are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. They are trained to treat conditions of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.

Orthopedic surgeons can specialize in areas like sports medicine or pediatric orthopedics. Some orthopedic surgeons perform surgery to correct physical deformities caused by conditions like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Some treat fractures and dislocations of the hip and knee.

Orthopedic surgeons typically work in hospitals but also work in offices or outpatient facilities that are closer to where their patients live. Some orthopedic surgeons teach at medical schools and conduct research into new treatments for injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

Orthopedic Surgeon Job Duties

Orthopedic surgeons are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:

  • Conducting assessments of referred patients to determine underlying causes of joint or muscular pain
  • Requesting diagnostic scans such as MRIs or X-rays
  • Diagnosing patients’ musculoskeletal problems and injuries
  • Planning surgical treatment and discussing recommendations with patients
  • Performing surgery on joints and muscles, including total joint replacement, minimally invasive joint surgery, hip resurfacing, arthroscopy, and cartilage repair or reconstruction
  • Managing and recommending post-operative rehabilitation programs for patients to regain mobility and strength
  • Writing prescriptions for medications that help alleviate pain while the patient’s healing process progresses

Orthopedic Surgeon Salary & Outlook

Orthopedic surgeons earn $401,150 per year on average. The top earners in the profession can make over $832,200 annually.

The number of jobs for orthopedic surgeons is expected to decline over the next decade. This is due to the increasing use of technology to assist surgeons during operations, as well as the increasing demand for minimally invasive surgery that does not require an orthopedic surgeon.

Orthopedic Surgeon Job Requirements

Orthopedic surgeons need a combination of education, training and certifications to be successful in the role.

Education: Candidates must earn a medical degree from a four-year program at an accredited medical school. Most candidates complete undergraduate coursework in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics before applying for medical school. They also complete clerkships with experienced physicians in various specialties to learn important skills in each area.

Training: In order to become an orthopedic surgeon, most candidates have completed a residency program after graduating from medical school. These residencies last between three and seven years depending on the specialty they’re going into. During this time, candidates work under a senior orthopedic surgeon to gain real-world experience. They also learn how to diagnose and treat conditions in their specialty.

Certifications: While they are not required for this job, they can help an orthopedic surgeon stand out from others when applying for a position. Some common certifications are offered by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). 

Orthopedic surgeons are also required to obtain licensure from their state in order to practice medicine.

Orthopedic Surgeon Skills

The following skills are required for this job:

Hand-eye coordination: Hand-eye coordination is crucial for an orthopedic surgeon because he or she needs steady hands when performing delicate surgeries

Attention to detail: Surgeons must be very attentive to details in order to avoid mistakes.

Time management: Time is of the essence in the operating room, and surgeons must work quickly while still being thorough.

Communication skills: An orthopedic surgeon must have excellent communication skills with his or her staff, patients, and their family members.

Medical knowledge: Knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology is crucial for an orthopedic surgeon.

Strong analytical skills: It is important to be able to analyze a patient’s condition and determine the best course of treatment.

Orthopedic Surgeon Work Environment

Orthopedic surgeons may work in a hospital, clinic, or private practice. They usually work long hours with unpredictable schedules. They are on call 24/7 and may be called in for emergencies at any time during their off-duty period. They may also travel for their job, to attend conferences or provide consultation services to other physicians. 

Orthopedic surgery is also physically demanding and requires extensive use of hand instruments, which can lead to repetitive stress injuries. Orthopedists must also spend most of the day standing or kneeling while working on patients. On average, surgeons report working 8 hours a day, including lunch breaks. About 1 out of 5 worked over 40 hours per week. 

Orthopedic Surgeon Career Advancement

Orthopedic surgeons can apply for fellowships to specialize in a particular area, such as hand surgery or sports medicine. Fellowships typically last from one to three years. Once complete, orthopedic surgeons can also apply for staff positions as hospital department heads.

Orthopedic surgeons who want to open their own practice should consider the cost. Many opt to join a group practice or to work as a medical advisor for a corporation. If you want a more flexible schedule, a job as a consultant is an alternative.

Orthopedic Surgeon Trends

Here are three trends influencing how orthopedic surgeons work. Orthopedic surgeons will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of Bionic Limbs

With the increasing popularity of high-profile athletes like Oscar Pistorius, it is clear that amputees and individuals with other disabilities are no longer resigned to relying on traditional prosthetics.

In fact, recent advances in technology have made it possible for amputees to receive bionic limbs that give them greater functionality than ever before.

Use of Virtual Reality Technology

Virtual reality (VR) technology is increasingly being used to train surgeons and residents on difficult procedures, such as knee replacements.

This training method allows surgeons to virtually rehearse a procedure and better prepare for what to expect in the operating room.

In addition, it can reduce anxiety and improve outcomes for patients by helping them feel more comfortable with the idea of surgery. 

Demand for Cross-Cultural Skills

As the US population continues to become more diverse, the demand for medical professionals who are skilled in cross-cultural interactions is likely to increase.

This trend is already being reflected in hospitals that have created formal cross-cultural training programs that teach staff how to identify and interact with patients from different cultural backgrounds, which can lead to improved outcomes for patients. 

How to Become a Orthopedic Surgeon

1. Planning Your Career Path

The job of an orthopedic surgeon is demanding and requires long hours. You will be working with your hands to improve people’s lives. If you like working in a team environment, and if you don’t mind having an unpredictable schedule, the position offers many rewards.

In addition to technical skills, doctors must have good communication skills and a solid understanding of human psychology; the ability to empathize with patients is crucial in this field.

2. Writing a Resume

Orthopedic surgeons must be highly skilled in the field of medicine and be able to show their ability to work independently. Their resumes should highlight their medical experience, education, and training, as well as their track record of success in the field.

It is critical that you provide examples of how you utilized your skills in previous jobs. When describing previous work experience, be sure to include information such as the kind of procedures you performed, the tools and equipment used, and any complications or challenges encountered. You can also talk about how you handled these situations by explaining what steps you took to resolve them. 

3. Applying for Jobs

The best way to find a job as an orthopedic surgeon is to become active in the medical community. Join organizations that connect surgeons with potential patients, or volunteer your time at hospitals. Once you’ve begun establishing yourself in the field, start applying for positions.

You can search online, but you’ll have more luck speaking directly with people. If you already know people who work at orthopedic clinics, reach out to them to ask about openings. Or, speak with other surgeons in your area to ask if they know of any jobs that may be available. You can also network through organizations like the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. And, don’t forget to attend networking events like “Meet and Greets” and community luncheons.

4. Ace the Interview

When you’re interviewing for a position as an orthopedic surgeon, be prepared to discuss the details of your experience. It is important that you can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge of the field. Include your experience treating patients with certain conditions. 

Since surgeons must spend long periods of time working in intense environments, it is important that they can demonstrate their ability to handle stress. Many candidates for this position will also want to mention the types of continuing medical education activities they have participated in so that they can show their commitment to remaining up-to-date on new developments in their field.

During your interview, be sure to make eye contact with both your interviewer and any other people on the interview panel. A good idea is to address all members of the panel during your answer so they can clarify any questions they may have.

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