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What Are the Duties of an Orthopedic Doctor?

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Orthopedic doctors are responsible for ailments in the musculoskeletal system, which include spine and joint deformities or injuries. Orthopedic doctors use surgical and non-surgical methods to treat sports injuries, degenerative diseases, tumors, infections and musculoskeletal trauma. Orthopedic doctors have a wide variety of duties, which includes seeing patients, doing research and educating students. To become an orthopedic doctor, an individual needs to complete a bachelor’s degree, medical school and residency program.


The work an orthopedic doctor does will depend on what specialty she chooses to practice. Orthopedic doctors will often specialize to treat a specific ailment. According to Minnesota Sports Medicine, some doctors will choose to work in sports medicine and specialize in treating sports injuries. Others choose to work in residential care centers and treat the elderly and their arthritis, degenerative conditions or osteoporosis. Finally, some doctors want to work in large hospitals and work on everything from sprained ankles to hip transplants.

Common Problem

The most common ailments an orthopedic doctor deals with are broken bones. Patients often come in with broken arms, legs, ankles and hands. There are all sorts of different reasons why bones break, and it’s up to an orthopedic doctor to ensure that they heal properly and fully function again. When a bone is broken, it can require both surgical and non-surgical methods for treatment. A doctor will need to see a patient multiple times to make sure that the bone is healing.


Many orthopedic doctors work in teaching hospitals and may be responsible for teaching students during medical school or residency. Not only will doctors spend time in classrooms or doing rounds, but they may have to attend seminars, conference and meetings.


While orthopedic doctors spend a lot of their time seeing patients, doctors still devote a lot time to doing research. 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.


Orthopedic surgeons who work in hospitals are required to be on call and to work in emergency situations. Anytime a doctor is on call, it means that his services may be requested at any moment during the day or night. While an orthopedic surgeon is on call, it’s important that he remain available at all times and get plenty of sleep when he can, so he can avoid sleep-deprivation mistakes.


Ted Marten lives in New York City and began writing professionally in 2007, with articles appearing on various websites. Marten has a bachelor's degree in English and has also received a certificate in filmmaking from the Digital Film Academy.

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