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Orthopaedics as a Career : Introduction

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The word 'orthopedic' is the fusion of two Greek words: 'orthos,' meaning straight or correct, and 'paideia', meaning raising of children. The French physician Nicholas Andry combined the terms to form the French 'orthopedique,' which was later translated into English. Given the original Greek roots, the term means 'to straighten the child' and refers to the orthopedist's specialization in correcting crooked or broken bones. Jean-Andre Venel established the first orthopedic institute in 1780, which was the first hospital dedicated to the treatment of children's skeletal deformities. He is considered to be the father of orthopedics.

Orthopaedics is a medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, care, and treatment of patients with disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and skin. This includes, for example, broken bones, torn ligaments, some spinal injuries etc. The specialty which deals with musculoskeletal system, gives animals and human beings the ability to move, by using the muscle and skeletal system.

Those who specialise in this medical field are called Orthopaedist or Orthopaedic surgeons. Orthopaedic surgeons are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries. The most common ailments an orthopedic doctor deals with are broken bones. Orthopaedic surgeons deal with both primary and secondary musculoskeletal issues of a patient's central nervous system, such as tumors, injuries, degenerative disease, trauma, congenital deformities and infections. They specialize in the muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons, joints and nerves, which let our bodies move. They use medical, physical, and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery for treating patients. Orthopedic surgeons use a variety of surgical techniques such as lasers to remove torn cartilage and arthroscopic surgery for treating damaged joints. These doctors work in a variety of settings, such as small private practices, hospitals and clinics.



A career in orthopedics involves intense study and years of education, but it is a challenging and rewarding option in the health field.

To pursue a course in this field the candidate is required to complete M.B.B.S. (i.e. Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) course from any recognized university in India or equivalent. After the completion of M.B.B.S. course there is an all India level test for Post Graduation, qualifying which, the candidate becomes eligible for pursuing the course. Separate tests are conducted by some of the highly rated medical institutions like AIIMS, PGIMER, AFMC, Pune etc.

The courses in this specific field are MS in Orthopedics which is of 3 years duration, Diploma in Orthopedics (D.Ortho) of 2 years duration. Candidates with MBBS degree, who have registered permanently with Medical Council of India or any other State Medical Councils, are eligible to apply for these courses. One can further take up DNB, MCh in superspecialties such as foot and ankle orthopaedics, orthopaedic sports medicine, pediatric orthopaedics, adult reconstructive orthopaedics, musculoskeletal oncology, orthopaedic spine surgery, hand surgery, orthopaedic trauma etc.

The course involves the study of diagnosis of the bone and joint related diseases and their treatment through operating procedures like scoliosis, cervical spondylosis and displacement of artificial articulation. The three-year postgraduate programme provides detailed knowledge about cervical spondylosis, bone tumor, spinal cord injury, rheumatoid arthritis, congenital diseases related to bones and joints, complex limb fractures and unhealed fractures and many more.

Personal attributes

Anytime a doctor must be on call, it means that his services may be requested at any moment during the day or night.

They should possess excellent decision making abilities, knowledge of latest medical developments, perfect eye and precision to do his job, good memory and recollection ability, service mentality, stamina, patience, power of concentration, emotional stability, logical and analytical mind, ability to interact with patients and healthcare professionals, willingness to learn throughout their career and above all genuine care and concern for all his patients.

Job prospects and Career options

The field of orthopedics offers great career opportunities, and the career development path for the orthopedic surgeons is very bright.

The work an orthopedic doctor does will depend on what specialty she/he chooses to practice. Some orthopedic specialists maintain a general medical practice of fixing broken bones but most specialize in one specific area of orthopedics. These specialties commonly include foot and ankle orthopaedics, orthopaedic sports medicine, pediatric orthopaedics, adult reconstructive orthopaedics, musculoskeletal oncology, orthopaedic spine surgery, hand surgery and orthopaedic trauma.

Other physicians often refer their patients to an orthopedic surgeon. Hence, an orthopaedic surgeon works closely with other health care professionals and often serve as a consultant to other physicians. An orthopedic surgeon uses surgical, medical or physical means to investigate, preserve and restore functions to a patient's extremities or spine.

An Orthopedic can start working with an established hospital, either in public or private sector, as per his choice. The other lucrative option is to open their own Clinic and provide services to the patients. Many orthopedic doctors opt to teach at universities and colleges or enter into research. Not only will doctors spend time in classrooms, but they may have to attend seminars, conference and meetings. It's important for orthopedic doctors to spend time reading medical journals and other periodicals to keep up to date on the latest technology and advancements in medicine.

They can also appear for Combined Medical Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, Government of India for entry into central services such as railways, ordnance Factories Health Service, Central Health Service and Municipal corporation of Delhi; and the state provincial services examination conducted by the respective state provincial service commissions for entry into state services. The candidate can also join army or naval forces.

Orthopaedist can get jobs in reputed Government Hospitals like AIIMS and PGIMER, Corporate Hospitals like Fortis, Apollo etc. They can also get jobs in rehabilitation centers established by sports and defense organizations.


Orthopedics is one of the highest paying medical specialties. The salary depends on his/her reputation as well as the place where one is working. If we consider the income of Orthopedic Surgeon with their own clinic, we can say that there is no upper limit to his/her remuneration. For those working in government hospitals, pay is much less than in private firms.

An Orthopaedic Surgeon in the initial stage gets a handsome salary of Rs. 20,000 to 25,000 per month. However, those at the senior level may get salary package around Rs.15 lakhs to Rs.20 lakhs per annum. Those working with hospitals and other government and private sectors, may get lucrative benefits like incentives, paid holidays, free insurance etc. Surgeons who specialize in spine surgery deserve the high salary range they receive, as the stress levels associated with their job is high.


To get the list of colleges offering courses in Orthopaedic field click on the course name

  » MS Orthopaedics

  » Diploma in Orthopaedics (D.Ortho)

  » DNB Orthopaedics

   medical science career , healthcare career

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