Orthopedic refers to a discipline of surgery that studies the injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and muscles. Doctors who specialize in orthopedic are called orthopedic surgeons, who treat different conditions such as fractures, dislocations, pulled muscles, arthritis, osteoporosis, club feet, and bone tumors.
Orthopedics offers different job opportunities for degree holders such as joining defense services (army or naval forces), working with high profile private or public hospitals, teaching in colleges and universities, or opening their own clinic.
But how do you pursue a career in orthopedics? Find out the answer to this common medical career question by reading below.
1. Meet Educational Requirements for Orthopedics
The required education to become an orthopedic surgeon is to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree. You need to have four to five years of residency in a hospital. Other requirements include passing the state medical licensure examination and certification in orthopedic surgery.
The first year of hospital residency covers general surgery and orthopedic-specific training for the remaining years. Orthopedic surgeons who want to specialize in subspecialties like pediatric orthopedic or orthopedic sports medicine must complete a one to two years fellowship after residency.
2. Apply For An Internship
Are you an undergraduate or newly graduated medical student? You may want to become a physician assistant first to get valuable exposure in the discipline of orthopedics by applying for an internship.
Participating in internship programs can provide you great opportunities to work in international health care settings. Mentoring programs are available, in which outstanding physician assistants, physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals can train you and share their experiences to help grow your knowledge and hone your skills.
You can search for internship programs that your local hospitals and medical centers offer. Private organizations also offer internship opportunities by collaborating with private and public hospitals, providing rewarding hands-on programs for aspiring orthopedics.
3. Obtain Orthopedic Licensing and Certification
Orthopedic surgeons must undergo licensing and certification to legally practice by passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. This exam has several parts and students can take them during their residencies. An orthopedic surgeon, after residency, must pass the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery exam to become certified. Every seven to 10 years, orthopedic surgery recertification is necessary.
4. Gain And Enhance Essential Qualities and Skills
Successful orthopedic surgeons have learned through their experiences in the operating room and dealing with patients who have musculoskeletal system issues every day. They understand the struggles that patients experience because of the inability to move or use their extremities and other body parts due to bone, muscle, and joint injuries.
As you gain more knowledge and skills in various orthopedic concepts, principles, techniques, and technologies, you need to consider every failure and opportunity to improve. You can’t afford to see people suffer or lose their life because of incompetence and lack of experience.
While you can’t provide a cure to all medical conditions, you can help your patients improve their quality of life or ease their pain and suffering. Hence, you also need to develop your soft skills to be able to relate with your patients while keeping your integrity, composure, and self-confidence. In this way, your patients will respect and trust in you, returning your good deeds by referring your services to their family and friends.
So, what are the essential qualities and skills of a good orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon? Good orthopedists provide the exceptional healthcare services patients need by the following professional qualities:
- Great Bedside Manner and Patient Care
- Demonstrate Mechanical Skill
- Good Leadership Ability
- Flexible and Positive Outlook
- Have A Realistic Approach
- Well-Rounded and Team Player
A good orthopedist isn’t only an expert by the book but is also caring and compassionate with patients. You can become an orthopedist who treats patients with genuine concern and respect.
As an orthopedic specialist, you should provide relief to patients in pain. You need to learn how to put your patients at ease so you can work together as a team to treat and recover from the illness or injury.
Orthopedic surgeons undergo years of extensive medical training. However, the most outstanding ones have excellent hand coordination and dexterity. Patients would know if you’re skilled in the operating room by verifying your years of experience and list of career certifications and awards. Of course, patients also rely on word-of-mouth or patient testimonials.
An exceptional orthopedic surgeon can occupy high positions on a medical team. If you want to take your orthopedic career further, you should demonstrate that you have the initiative and can lead other healthcare professionals within their practice by supervising them in the operating room or spearheading a research project. Practice a take-charge attitude that shows your commitment and confidence, which can greatly benefit your patients and your career.
Knowledgeable and accommodating orthopedists are willing to explore various options to tailor a patient’s treatment according to the individual’s specific needs. You should be willing to invest your time and effort to find the best treatment plan for your patient’s problem.
You need to show your willingness to learn at all times. A great orthopedic surgeon stays abreast with the evolution and trends in diagnostic studies, surgical techniques, and other healthcare technologies. You should possess this attitude and apply your newfound knowledge to provide the best services to your clientele.
Great orthopedic surgeons won’t sell the bill of goods of their patients. A good orthopedist considers every possible treatment for the patient and also realistic about the possible results. You need to train yourself to tell your patients whether they’re a suitable candidates for complex orthopedic surgery.
Entry to trauma and orthopedic surgery is very challenging, so you must be a well-rounded person and a team player. You should have the ability to work in isolation or in a team with commitment and enthusiasm, coping in any healthcare crisis. So, aside from gaining technical skills in med schools, aspiring orthopedists also strive to learn these soft skills as early as possible to provide the best patient care delivery.
If you like to pursue a career in orthopedics, you should take the basic educational requirements, get ready to work for an internship, and pass the board exam. Besides the technical knowledge, it’s also essential to learn the good qualities and skills needed to become a successful orthopedist.