How do I Become an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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A person who wants to become an orthopedic trauma surgeon will need to complete medical school and an orthopedics residency before taking special training in trauma surgery. The educational process is long and may require relocating to access the best programs for training. Many people also choose to pursue membership in professional organizations once they have completed training to become an orthopedic trauma surgeon to get access to trade publications and other benefits that come with professional certifications.

Going to medical school to become an orthopedic trauma surgeon requires attending an undergraduate institution and completing coursework in math and science to prepare for a medical education. While in medical school, people will have an opportunity to rotate through different medical specialties to get a taste for them. During the orthopedics rotation, it is advisable to perform as well as possible to be a competitive applicant to orthopedic surgery programs. If a trauma elective is available, it can be taken to get a grounding in trauma medicine.


After medical school, the student will need to enter an orthopedic surgery residency. In most medical training programs, people start in general surgery and then refine their skills. Medical students may want to apply into orthopedic residencies with a trauma component, if it is available. This will provide opportunities to learn and practice trauma surgery before entering a trauma fellowship after successfully completing training as an orthopedic surgeon. A person who plans to become an orthopedic trauma surgeon may spend an extended period of time in training.

Before being allowed to practice medicine, people must pass an examination to receive a medical license. Board certification as an orthopedic surgeon is also recommended. Board certified surgeons can command higher salaries and are more appealing job applicants for hospitals choosing between a number of competing surgeons. If it is offered in the nation where a surgeon works, additional professional certification in orthopedic trauma or trauma surgery can be beneficial for someone who wants to become an orthopedic trauma surgeon.

Once someone has become an orthopedic trauma surgeon, it will be possible to apply to hospitals for a professional position. Some surgeons may remain at teaching hospitals, training the next generation of doctors, while others may pursue employment in public or private hospitals without a teaching component. Teaching hospitals offer an opportunity to conduct research, something that may appeal to some surgeons who want to improve surgical techniques and work with experimental implants and procedures as part of their work.


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