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Texas Orthopaedic Association

Orthopaedics in Texas



Texas Orthopaedic Surgeons:

Ensuring Outstanding Musculoskeletal Care for Patients

Orthopaedics is the medical specialty that focuses on injuries and diseases of the body's musculoskeletal system. This complex system controls bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves, which allows you to be active.

Orthopaedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical avenues to treat sports injuries, musculoskeletal trauma, tumors, infections, degenerative diseases, and congenital disorders.

How Selective Is Orthopaedics?

The treatment of musculoskeletal conditions is one of the most complex acts in medicine. As a result, orthopaedic residency programs have been designed to be highly selective to ensure that resources are focused on training residents who will provide the best musculoskeletal care possible to patients.

Texas has eight civilian orthopaedic residency programs and two programs tied to the military. The following is a sample of how selective and competitive these programs are:

  • The University of Texas Health Science Center - Houston received 550 applications for its four residency slots for the 2012-2013 year.

  • Texas A&M College of Medicine - Scott & White Program received 436 applications for four residency slots during the same time period.

  • John Peter Smith Orthopaedic Residency Program received 379 applications for four slots during the same time period.

In Texas, the average orthopaedic resident is exposed to more than 7,500 patients before they begin practicing independently. During this time, they can dedicate anywhere from 14,000 to 18,000 hours in patient care during a residency.

Education and Training (Minimum Requirements)

An orthopaedic surgeon is a physician with extensive training in the proper diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system. In many cases, orthopaedic surgeons have completed up to 14 years of formal education. Sometimes more.

  • Four years of study in a college or university.

  • Four years of study in a medical school to become a physician.

  • Five years of study in orthopaedic residency at a major medical center.

  • One optional year of specialized education (fellowship).

Many orthopaedic surgeons complete board certification after the completion of the orthopaedic training program. This requires an orthopaedic surgeon to undergo a peer-review process followed by a demonstration of his/her expertise in orthopaedics by passing oral and written exams given by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. In addition, the orthopaedic surgeon must complete a rigorous re-certification process every 10 years.

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