Is Orthopaedics Right For You?

Amiethab Aiyer, MD | Jonathan Kaplan, MD | Matt Varacallo, MD

September 11, 2019


Whether you are just starting medical school or are making your way through your clinical rotations, the decision to commit to orthopaedic surgery is not to be taken lightly. Even for those of you who have come into medical school knowing that you love orthopaedics; this may potentially change with various experiences during your training.  In today’s post, we will share some tips that can help confirm your decision:

1Keep an Open Mind

Regardless of the unique experiences in your life that have driven you towards orthopedic surgery, explore any specialty that you may be interested in. You may be pleasantly surprised at which fields pique your interests; perhaps due to various pathologies, procedural skills, or the patient population. Taking the time to shadow various clinicians can help you gauge which specialty sparks that feeling of passion.

2Hands on vs. Hands off

Make sure that you LOVE being in the operating room if you are considering orthopaedic surgery. If you do not find it enthralling at all times of day or night, you may want to consider an alternative specialty. For example, if you love sports medicine but do not love surgery, there are many pathways one can choose including pediatrics, physiatry, internal medicine or family medicine.

3Participate in Research Projects Early and Often

Doing research in orthopaedic surgery is a great way to connect with potential mentors and advocates, and also to gain understanding of the more academic nuances. Moreover, at some point soon you may be deciding between academic positions versus private practice opportunities. Exploring research during your training can facilitate insight into deciding between them. Finally, research in general demonstrates your ability to think analytically, work in teams and complete projects. Even if the research is outside of your ultimate field of choosing, this can still be beneficial (especially for residency applications).

4Consider Your Lifestyle

While everyone in medicine works hard to care for the plethora of issues that exist, some specialties may be more lifestyle-friendly than others. Be honest with yourself when deciding on a given field. Orthopaedic surgeons are known for working hard and playing hard so make sure that you are ready to take the plunge!

5Find Your Passion

In general, orthopaedic surgeons love what they do and are passionate about it. Make sure this field makes you happy. This will enable you to stay engaged with your patients, with research and your family!


DISCLOSURES: Dr. Aiyer American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society: Board or committee member, Delee & Drez Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (Elsevier): Publishing royalties, financial or material support, Medline: Paid consultant, Medshape: Paid consultant, Miller’s Review of Orthopaedics (Elsevier): Publishing royalties, financial or material support. Dr. Kaplan Medline: Paid consultant, Wright Medical Technology, Inc.: Paid consultant. Dr. Varacallo This individual reported nothing to disclose.

Read the AAOS Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE


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