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What is an orthopaedic doctor? What is an orthopaedic surgeon?

An orthopaedic doctor, also known as an orthopaedist, is a medical doctor (MD) or a doctor of osteopathy (DO) who specializes in the musculoskeletal system which includes bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.

Orthopaedic surgeons are specialized in the musculoskeletal system. Many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas of the body, such as foot and ankle, hand and wrist, or back, neck, and spine. Additionally, orthopaedic doctors may focus on a specific field of orthopaedics, like pediatrics, sports medicine, or trauma.

What is the educational training of an orthopaedic surgeon?

Board-certified orthopaedic surgeons have successfully completed a minimum of 13 years of formal education:

  • Undergraduate: Four years of study in a college or university
  • Medical School: Four years of study in a school of medicine
  • Orthopaedic Residency: Five years of study at a major medical institution

Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Orthopaedic Surgeons Have Completed:

  • Undergraduate: Four years of study in a college or university
  • Medical School: Four years of study in a school of medicine
  • Orthopaedic Residency: Five years of study at a major medical institution
  • Fellowship Training: One year of specialized education in an accredited fellowship program

All orthopaedic surgeons continue their medical education yearly to stay current in orthopaedic knowledge and skills.

What is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon?

Once a doctor has completed an orthopaedic residency at a major medical institution, the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery offers a written test to become board-eligible. If the written test is passed, the doctor becomes “eligible” to take the oral test, after two years in practice. When the doctor passes the oral exam, the doctor becomes “board-certified” and is considered a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

The intent of the certification process, as defined by the board members of the American Board of Medical Specialties, is to provide assurance to the public that a certified medical specialist has successfully completed an approved educational program and an evaluation, including an examination process designed to assess the knowledge, experience, and skills requisite to the provision of high-quality patient care in that specialty.

What is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon?

A fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon is a doctor who has completed a minimum of 13 years of education and has completed an additional year of specialty training in a specific field of orthopaedic surgery in an accredited fellowship program. There are fellowships in all several areas of orthopaedics: foot and ankle, hand and wrist, and back, neck and spine. Additionally, orthopaedic surgeons may focus on a specific field of orthopaedics, like pediatrics, sports medicine, or trauma.

What is a physiatrist (physical medicine & rehabilitation physician)?

A physiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in nonsurgical pain management, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and neurological studies.

What is a primary care sports medicine doctor?

A primary care sports medicine doctor is a leader in the field of sports medicine. Either through advanced fellowship training or through years of clinical experience, a primary care sports medicine doctor has learned the skills to take care of athletes of all ages, sports, and levels of competition. Primary care sports medicine doctors often serve as team doctors to professional sports teams or are personal doctors to elite level athletes.

What is a physician assistant?

A physician assistant, commonly referred to as a PA, is a healthcare professional licensed to practice medicine with doctor supervision. Physician assistants can treat patients and write prescriptions. PAs are trained to recognize when patients need the attention of a supervising doctor or specialist. Physician assistants see patients in the office as well as assist the doctors in surgery.

What is a physical therapist?

A physical therapist is licensed by the state and specializes in therapy programs for musculoskeletal injuries and disorders, sports injuries, postoperative rehabilitation, and massage therapy.

What is an occupational therapist?

An occupational therapist is licensed by the state and specializes in the treatment of the upper extremity (hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder) and work injuries. The services provided by occupational therapists include patient education, joint range of motion, adaptive techniques, splinting, and workplace evaluations.