American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Orthopaedic Surgery

Orthopaedic residencies will be accredited to offer five years of graduate medical education. The orthopaedic residency director is responsible for the design, implementation, and oversight of a PGY 1 year that will prepare residents for specialty education in orthopaedic surgery. The PGY 1 year must include resident participation in clinical and didactic activities that will give them the opportunity to:

  1. Develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to formulate principles and assess, plan, and initiate treatment of adult and pediatric patients with surgical and/or medical problems
  2. Be involved in the care of patients with surgical and medical emergencies, multiple organ system trauma, soft tissue wounds, nervous system injuries and diseases, peripheral vascular injuries and diseases, and rheumatologic and other medical diseases
  3. Gain experience in the care of critically ill surgical and medical patients
  4. Participate in the pre-, intra- and postoperative care of surgical patients
  5. Develop an understanding of surgical anesthesia, including anesthetic risks and the management of intraoperative anesthetic complications

In order to meet these goals the PGY1 year must include:

  1. A minimum of six months of structured education in surgery, including the areas of multi-system trauma, plastic surgery/burn care, intensive care, and vascular surgery
  2. A minimum of one month of structured education in at least three of the following specialty areas: emergency medicine, medical/cardiac intensive care, internal medicine, neurology, neurological surgery, rheumatology, anesthesiology, musculoskeletal imaging, and rehabilitation
  3. A maximum of three months of orthopaedic surgery

For more information, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Association.

The description of this surgical specialty was adapted from a description set forth by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

Orthopaedic Surgery as a Career

Correction of childhood deformities was the genesis of the specialty orthopaedics (orthos-straight; pais-child). Initially, and even up to a couple of decades ago, it was a nonoperative specialty. Technological advances in biomaterials and our knowledge of biomechanics tremendously advanced orthopaedics from applying braces and Plaster of Paris casts to super-specialized surgical procedures covering a broad range from joint replacement to spinal surgery. The scope of orthopaedics includes the prevention, investigation, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system by nonsurgical and surgical methods.

Orthopaedic surgeons see an extremely diverse patient population from young children with spinal disorders and extremity deformities to elderly patients with joint arthritis and osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures. We still see a large amount of nonoperative problems, but can also significantly improve the lives of people with operative procedures to regain mobility and function.

Orthopaedic surgery is a five-year residency after medical school. Many orthopaedic surgeons choose to continue their training after residency to complete fellowships in a wide variety of subspecialties including: spine surgery, hand surgery, sports medicine, total joint replacement (hip and knee), pediatric orthopaedics, foot and ankle, and orthopaedic oncology.

The musculoskeletal system is a beautiful and fascinating human structure. It allows us to participate and enjoy the essence of humanity.

Life is motion, and motion is life.

Rick C. Sasso, MD, FACS
Indianapolis, IN