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What does it take to become an orthopaedic surgeon?

I was recently asked by a friend, who had a teenage child who is interested in becoming an orthopaedic surgeon, “what does it take to become an orthopaedic surgeon?”

In total, from the time one graduates from high school, it takes a minimum of 13 years of schooling/training to become an orthopaedic surgeon. That’s 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of residency training as a “junior” doctor and then if a subspecialty is desired, another 1-2 years of training. Orthopaedic surgeons can subspecialize in sports medicine (like I did), orthopaedic oncology, spine, adult reconstruction (that’s joint replacements), pediatric orthopaedics, foot/ankle reconstruction, shoulder/elbow, hand - to name a few.

Not all college graduates decide to go straight through to medical school, with some individuals taking time off to travel, obtain a graduate degree, work or perform research. Personally, I took a non-traditional path as I hadn’t...

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