Orthopedic Surgeon Education & Training

To become an orthopedic surgeon, candidates must complete an undergraduate program and 4 years of medical school, resulting in a medical degree. Training may include a full orthopedic rotation during medical school.

After graduation, physicians must complete a 5-year residency program. Residency program requirements usually include 4 years of orthopedic surgery training and 1 year of training in general surgery, pediatrics, or internal medicine.

Orthopedic Surgeon Board Certification

Board certification requires an orthopedic surgeon to complete training in a residency program, practice in the field of orthopedic surgery for 2 years, and pass an examination (written and oral). The American Board of Orthopedic Surgery (ABOS) tests and certifies eligible physicians in the specialty field of orthopedic surgery.

To maintain certification, orthopedic surgeons certified after 1986 must complete 120 hours of continuing medical education (CME), must undergo peer review, and must pass a written or oral examination every 7 to 10 years.

Hand Surgery

Orthopedic surgeons may subspecialize in hand surgery. These candidates must complete the following requirements:

  • One additional year of education
  • Endorsement of the program director
  • Peer review
  • Document a minimum number of hand surgeries
  • Pass a written examination

Upon completion of these requirements, the surgeon is awarded a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Surgery of the Hand by the ABOS. Surgeons must be recertified in this subspecialty every 10 years.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Oct 2001

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015