What Do Orthopedic Doctors Do

Orthopedic doctor with bones

Orthopedic doctors specialize to treat joint problems, broken bones, and other degenerative bone conditions. They are also qualified to treat sports injuries, congenital conditions, and tumors in the bone and bone infections. An orthopedic doctor may have a specific specialty depending on whether he is working in a small clinic or serving in a large hospital where a variety of bone disorders and problems are treated.

Orthopedics is a branch of medicine whose specialization is focused on injuries related to the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedics has different branches such as orthopedic surgery, rheumatology, physical therapy and pediatric orthopedics. Training and education to become an orthopedic doctor lasts for thirteen years, broken down with eight years of undergraduate and post graduate schooling and spending five years for residency. It is during this period that an orthopedic doctor will choose a specialty. Once a doctor has been licensed a medical doctor, he/she then chooses a specialty. After the residency has been successfully accomplished, the doctor can sit for written and oral exams and his work reviews for orthopedics certification. The certification is awarded by the American Board of Medical Specialties. There are also licensing requirements that vary from state to state that will allow the orthopedic doctor to set up practice in his specialization in any state for which he obtained a license.

  1. An orthopedic doctor’s work depends on the specialty that he chose. He can focus on just one part of the body such as hands and arms, legs and feet, hips, shoulders, knees, joints, He can also elect to work in sports medicine and treat sport injuries which is in great demand. Others orthopedic doctors like to treat the elderly who have arthritis, osteoporosis and other degenerative skeletal conditions. Other can focus on general treatment and work in a hospital or in a specialized branch as an orthopedic surgeon.
  2. Orthopedic doctors treat common ailments such as broken bones which is quite prevalent. Patients usually come with broken fingers, arms, ankles, legs and feet. Treatment can vary and may require a patient to see the orthopedic doctor several times to ensure that the bone is healing properly.
  3. An orthopedic doctor can also work in a teaching hospital. These orthopedic doctors should keep abreast of the developments in the orthopedic branch of medicine and may be required to attend conferences, medical meetings and specialty seminars. They can teach medical students during medical schooling or during their residency.
  4. An orthopedic doctor can also work in the emergency department of a hospital where immediate care and attention is needed for accident victims and those victims of physical abuse and violence.
  5. Orthopedic doctors are also involved in research in their particular field. Developments in equipment, treatment and care for orthopedic patients are constantly updated and an orthopedic doctor spend time reading medical periodicals and journals to keep up to date in technology and advancement in orthopedic medicine.

According to the US Department of Labor and Statistics, the job outlook for orthopedic doctors is very healthy. There is an upsurge of demand for this specialty since 2009 and is expected to continue until 2014. Earning can vary too, depending on the specialty. A general care orthopedist may earn lower that a spinal orthopedist.


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