By John W. Hinchey, MD
Orthopaedic surgeons are physicians which are highly trained in the musculoskeletal system.
This includes bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. An Orthopaedic Surgeon has completed 13-14 years of formal education including an undergraduate degree, medical degree, residency training, and possibly an extra year in fellowship specialization year.
Furthermore, after finishing residency training, THE BOARD CERTIFICATION PROCESS BEGINS. This is a rigorous process which takes a minimum of two years to complete. First, the physician must take a lengthy high stakes written examination which evaluates their global knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and treatment of disorders. Once this examination is passed, then the second step to obtain the title of “Board Certification” is begun. This is commonly referred to as the “Oral Examination” step. Over a two year period, the surgeon keeps a highly detailed log of surgical cases performed, and submits this to the American Board Of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). These cases are reviewed by experts in the field of orthopaedics. The surgeon then has to verbally defend their rationale for treatment at their “Oral Exam” in Chicago, Il. This is the equivalent of a Thesis Defense in graduate school.
Once this process is completed and passed, then, and only then, can a surgeon be referred to as a “Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon”.
Once the Orthopaedic Surgeon is Board Certified, they then enter the “Maintenance of Certification” (MOC) phase. This is a 10 year cycle, in which the physician must complete many hours of Continued Medical Education (CME). At the end of this 10 year cycle, they then must complete 1 of 3 pathways to retain their Board Certification status. The choice of pathways are (1) a written examination, (2) repeat oral examination, or the new (3) Longitudinal Assessment (this is a series of “mini” examinations completed over a 5 year timeframe).
As you can see, your board certified orthopaedic surgeon is a highly trained individual who has invested extensive time and energy to best they can be at treating musculoskeletal disease. This process is a life-long endeavor.
- To learn more about what an orthopaedic surgeon is, please take a look at:
- To learn more about being a board certified orthopaedic surgeon, please check out:
You can consult with Dr. Hinchey or any of our specialists by booking an appointment: