What’s an Orthopedic Specialist?

If you’ve been experiencing progressive hip or knee discomfort that gets worse when you attempt to put weight on that joint, or you’re grappling with musculoskeletal pain that’s associated with a recent, traumatic injury, chances are that your general practitioner will refer you to a Florida orthopedic specialist. Orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are physicians who’ve been specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries.

What Kind of Training Do Orthopedists Have?

Like most physicians, orthopedist specialists generally major in a scientific field like biology or chemistry when they’re undergraduates in college. Before they can be admitted into medical school, they will be required to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which is very competitive.

Then they need to get accepted into an accredited medical school and complete four years of medical education. While the majority of physicians practicing in the U.S. are graduates of American medical schools, approximately 25 percent have obtained their medical degrees abroad.

Upon graduation, medical students must take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) before they will be allowed to work in an ambulatory setting. At this point, aspiring orthopedic surgeons will join a five-year residency training program associated with a major medical center where they’ll spend one year in general surgery and four years in orthopedic surgery. Following that, many orthopedic surgeons choose to specialize in one specific kind of surgery such as sports medicine, pediatrics, or injuries involving a particular part of the body. This additional training takes a year.

Orthopedic specialists cannot become certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery until the have practiced for two years. Once they have passed the qualifying exam, they will be “board-certified.”

The Importance of Board Certification

While a physician does not need to be board-certified in order to practice medicine, any doctor who calls himself or herself an “orthopedic surgeon” does require that certification. The designation is only given to physicians who have completed extensive training in an orthopedic subspecialty. It’s a pledge these physicians make to the patients they treat that they are at the very top of their game.