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When choosing an orthopedic surgeon, it helps to know something about how to compare the training and experience of the different professionals who are available to you.
Orthopedic surgeons can be either medical or osteopathic physicians. After college, they attend medical school for four years and receive a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) degree. Following medical or osteopathic school, surgeons must complete a residency in orthopedics. This is usually a minimum of five years. While in residency, the surgeon learns much more about the bones, joints and muscles of the body. Under the guidance of the professors of orthopedic surgery, the orthopedic surgeons-in-training learn to operate and perfect their surgical skills.
After residency, surgeons begin practice. New surgeons must obtain surgical privileges at the hospitals where surgery will be performed. This requires extensive credentialing by the hospital during which surgeons' backgrounds and training are verified.
The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery certifies orthopedic surgeons. To become board certified, surgeons must pass exams that are given two years after entering practice. To maintain board certification, surgeons must take an additional test every 10 years and prove that they have attended a minimum number of hours of continuing education.
Many orthopedic surgeons choose to specialize even further. This requires additional training in the form of a fellowship. A fellowship typically lasts between six and 12 months. During that time, surgeons work with one or more experts in a specialized field of orthopedic surgery. This allows the surgeons to become even more experienced in certain areas, such as joint replacement and spinal surgery.
Your Relationship With Your Surgeon
In addition to outstanding clinical credentials, a good surgeon will have a good "bedside manner." That means showing concern for your pain, taking time to hear your worries and answering your questions fully. The relationship you share with your physician is a key to resolving your pain, as well as a smooth and successful recovery.
Once it is determined that surgery is an option for you, it is important to consider the many implications that this will have on you, your loved ones, your finances and your lifestyle. To help in that education process, Parker Adventist Hospital offers a comprehensive class before surgery to discuss these issues.
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