Orthopaedic Training

Musculoskeletal Care

The Musculoskeletal System Is Complicated, Which Is Why Orthopaedic Surgeons Complete 10 Years of Training Following Undergraduate Study

The musculoskeletal system’s complex nature is why orthopaedic surgeons complete years of training before they are deemed qualified to begin independent practice.

Orthopaedic surgeons are physicians (MD or DO) who are devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, disorders and diseases that affect the body’s musculoskeletal system. The system includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles nerves and tendons.

An orthopaedic surgeon’s job is to help people perform the most basic bodily functions that make up the foundation of an active, healthy lifestyle. Taking care of patients’ musculoskeletal injuries, conditions and diseases represents a time-consuming endeavor to ensure that patients have the best musculoskeletal care possible.

Orthopaedic Surgeons

Nine-Plus Years of Post-Undergraduate Training

4 Years

Medical School

5 Years

Orthopaedic Residency

1 or 2 Years

Most surgeons complete one or two years in a fellowship


Orthopaedic Surgeons: Always Sharpening Their Skills

Medical School: Four Years

There is no substitute for medical school, which all physicians (MD or DO) complete before embarking on a residency.

The purpose of medical school is to prepare a physician to understand every aspect of the human system and how each segment of it interacts with each other. This training becomes valuable when a patient presents with pain that is not due to an obvious source, such as an injury. Non-musculoskeletal conditions, such as tumors or vascular conditions, can create musculoskeletal pain, and these need to be diagnosed through proper tools, such as imaging or laboratory tests.

Under Texas law, only a physician (MD or DO) is permitted to offer a medical diagnosis and be referred to as a “physician.”

Residency: Five Years

The orthopaedic residency is one of the most competitive residencies in medicine. Each Texas residency program typically receives at least 700 applicants for four our five annual spots.

The average orthopaedic resident completes at least 20,000 hours in direct patient care by the end of her or his residency.

It is only after that intensive training of four years in medical school and five years in an orthopaedic residency that an orthopaedic surgeon is deemed prepared for independent practice.

Most Texas orthopaedic surgeons follow their five-year residency with a one- or two-year fellowship in a sub-specialty field.

Accreditation: Following residency, orthopaedic surgeons complete a rigorous process for initial board certification.

To maintain board certification, orthopaedic surgeons are required to complete the rigorous re-certification process every 10 years.