The average median orthopedic surgeon salary in the United States is about $425,000 per year or about $204 per hour. The highest earning 10th percentile of the profession reported wages of about $665,000 or more per year or an hourly wage or about $319 or more per hour. The bottom 10th percentile of orthopedic surgeons earn a salary of about $254,000 or less per year which is about $122 or less per hour. Those who find themselves in the middle 50% of this profession reported wages between $335,000 and $550,000 per year or about $161 and $264 per hour.
Like most other factors, the salary of an orthopedic surgeon is largely determined by many factors. Factors such as the type of establishment they work in, years of experience on the job, skills level, hours worked and geographical location can all be determining factors of how much an orthopedic surgeon earns.
Orthopedic surgeons, like most other physicians, are entitled to some of the best benefits on top of their salaries. Employers may provide such benefits as pension, social security, paid time off, bonuses, 401K and healthcare benefits. When these benefits are added to their base salary, the total median remuneration package for an orthopedic surgeon will be about $567,000 per year. As you can see, the orthopedic surgeon salary is one of the highest in the healthcare industry.
Job description of an orthopedic surgeon
Who are they and what do they do? Orthopedic surgeons are physicians that specialize in diagnosing, prevention and treatment of diseases, ailments and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons spend a very long time in training to become experts in diseases, conditions and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system is made up of joints, muscles, bones, nerves, tendons and ligaments.
Although all of them are very familiar with everything to do with the musculoskeletal system, a lot of them choose to subspecialize in particular areas of the body such as the ankle and foot, elbow and shoulder, hip, spine or the knee. Some also choose to focus on particular fields like trauma, pediatrics, reconstructive surgery, sports medicine or oncology.
Orthopedic surgeon’s patients are of all ages carrying ailments from broken legs to artificial hips. Some of the common ailments they may treat include, club foot, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, abnormal fingers and toes, ruptured disks, torn acl, munnion, fractures and dislocations, osteoarthritis, muscle pulls and torn cartilage. The above are just a few injuries and conditions they treat.
Although they are surgeons, they prefer to use non-invasive treatments whenever possible and actually encourage this over invasive treatments. Some of the common non-invasive methods they use include casting and splinting limbs, using rehabilitative exercises or prescribing medications and supplements to help strengthen joints and minimize pain. In some instances, surgery may be performed to plate bones that have been broken, re-attach torn tendons and ligaments or replace a hip.
How to become an orthopedic surgeon
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The path to becoming an orthopedic surgeon involves four years of undergraduate studies leading to the award of a bachelor’s degree, four years of medical school leading to a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree and five years of residency training. That is a minimum of 13 years post-high-school education to get there.
The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree. This degree enables you to get into medical school. These days getting into medical school does not require a specific undergraduate major. Medical schools admit students with bachelor’s degrees in all manners of majors. You still need to take some pre-requisite subjects in college though. Subjects such as chemistry, biology and physics are required to be accepted into medical school. Medical school admission is very competitive. It is therefore to obtain excellent grades in college and on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
The next leg on the journey is medical school. This last for four years. The first two years of medical school will mostly be spent in rigorous classroom and lab based studies in subjects such as biology, anatomy, pharmacology and a few other subjects. The last two years will mostly be spent in clinical settings where you train, under the supervision of qualified physicians, in internal medicine, gynecology, family practice, orthopedics and a few other branches of medicine.
The next step after medical school is five years in residency training. Most residency programs for orthopedic surgeons involve one year residency in internal medicine, general surgery or pediatrics and four years of residency training in orthopedic surgery. There are some other residency programs for orthopedic surgeons where they do two years of general surgery residency and then three years of clinical orthopedic training.
Verdict on orthopedic surgeon salary
As you can conclude from the figures above, the orthopedic surgeon salary is one of the highest in the healthcare profession. It is very common to see the most experienced ones making well over $800,000 per year. Even those just entering the field can expect very high starting salaries. It’s just that the training to become one is very long and difficult and requires a very hardworking and dedicated student to get there.