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Orthopedic Surgeon Job Description, Career as a Orthopedic Surgeon, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Doctorate degree

Average Salary $339,000 per year

Job Outlook Very good

Basic Job Description

Orthopedic surgeons treat most muscle and skeletal problems including arthritis, congenital deformities, or trauma injuries. They provide medical care by performing physical exams, designing treatment and therapeutic plans, and keeping track of patient progress to determine what needs to be done. They often perform back and spinal surgeries, joint replacement surgery, and repair fractures in bones. The surgeon is often in charge of the entire orthopedic department including the physician’s assistants, nurses and surgery technicians. They will assign assistants and technicians to specific duties and surgeries and make sure everyone is taking part in helping the department to operate smoothly.

Education and Training Requirements

To become an orthopedic surgeon, a medical doctorate degree is required along with postgraduate training in orthopedic surgery. Surgeons are required to work in surgery centers or clinics as residents to gain experience before becoming board certified by taking a state administered exam. It is required for all surgeons to become board certified in the state which they intend to perform surgery.

Getting the Job

An orthopedic surgeon must be able to work independently and conduct a surgery on their own from start to finish. The surgeon will determine exactly what needs to be done to a patient and decide just how much help they need in the operating room. They will choose staff to work with them on each surgery as nurses or assistants, as well as caring for the patient after surgery.

Surgeons will need to understand the proper sanitation and sterilization procedures before, during and after surgery, as well as be able to handle the sometimes unpleasant smells or sights that come with cutting someone open.

Orthopedic surgeons must be able to handle extremely stressful and high pressures situations, as surgeries can sometimes spiral out of control relatively quickly or the patient may respond negatively. The surgeon must be able to think quickly and keep all situations under control. They must also possess manual dexterity to multitask yet concentrate just as hard on each specific job being done.

Someone who intends to work as an orthopedic surgeon must also be continually up to date on new technological advancements and medical procedures being brought into the surgery room. Many states require surgeons of all types to renew their license every few years so they will stay up to date on any advancements and new findings.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for surgeons of all kinds, including orthopedic, is expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years. Many surgeons are reaching the age of retirement and will need to be replaced, so more and more positions are opening up for availability. More jobs are also becoming available due to the need for surgeons in low-income or rural areas, as they often have a hard time finding surgeons willing to work in these locations. The increase in number of elderly population also create a large need for surgeons, particularly now that the baby boomer generation is getting older. All of these factors make job prospects for orthopedic surgeons very good and likely to keep getting better.

Many surgeons will advance their careers by joining a group practice with surgeons in related fields, or by opening a practice of their own. Some may even become professors after working in the field for a number of years, and assist surgery students to teach them how work is done in the surgery room. The career of a surgeon depends on the positive reputation they can maintain with patients and fellow employees.

Working Conditions and Environment

Most surgeons work in a hospital setting or in a private clinic. The environment is usually fast-paced and high-stress, so it is important for surgeons to be able to continue performing surgeries and taking care of patients even if the environment is getting overwhelming. Surgeons typically have several assistants available in case there is an abundance of emergency surgery patients.

Surgeons must also be able to handle the intense surgery environment. Surgery often comes with unpleasant smells or sights, and a surgeon must be able to continue working regardless of what the person looks like or what happens once they are cut open. Some people may respond negatively to surgery and bleed excessively, so a surgeon will need to be able to quickly fix any issues without being bothered. They must look at bodies not in a physical and emotional way, but as if they are a piece of work that needs to be mastered and fixed.

Many surgeons work long or odd hours, particularly those in the orthopedic field. Surgeries working on the back or neck can sometimes take an entire day, so surgeons must be able to continually work without the possibility of stopping to go to the bathroom or take a lunch break. Surgery often does not allow for these breaks, and it often requires surgeons to work through the night or stay on-call to make sure a patient does not suffer from any after effects.

Salary and Benefits

Salaries for orthopedic surgeons, or any type of surgeon, are among the highest of any occupation. The average salary for an orthopedic surgeon is about $339,000 per year. Self-employed surgeons working in their own practice often make more than a surgeon working for a salary at a hospital. However, surgeons working for a hospital will automatically receive health insurance as well as vacation time from their employer, while most self-employed surgeons will have to provide and pay for these benefits themselves.

Where to Go for More Information

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
6300 North River Road
Rosemont, IL 60018
(847) 823-7186

American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society
6300 North River Road, Suite 510
Rosemont, IL 60018
(800) 235-4855

Physicians Assistants in Orthopedic Surgery
P.O. Box 10781
Glendale, AZ 85318

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