Orthopaedic surgeon

What they do

An orthopaedic surgeon is a specialist in the surgical treatment of injuries to and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

They perform arthroscopic surgery, total joint replacements, ligament reconstructions, and use surgery to treat musculoskeletal trauma, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, congenital disorders, and tumours.

There are currently just over 100 orthopaedic surgeons in Western Australia, most of whom work in the Perth metropolitan area.

Working conditions

Orthopaedic surgeons may work in the public or private hospital system or in their own private consultation practice. They may also supervise and teach medical students, residents and registrars. They may be required to work long shifts, odd hours and weekends. They may be required to be on-call in case of an emergency.

Orthopaedic surgeons operate in completely sterile theatre rooms and must wear protective clothing.

Tools and technologies

Orthopaedic surgeons use a range of specialised surgical instruments while operating on patients, such as scalpels, retractors, saws, drills and forceps.

Outside of the operating theatre, orthopaedic surgeons can also use technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, computed tomography (CT) scans, electromyogram (EMG), X-rays, bone scans, and Nerve Conduction Study (NCS) testing to assist in diagnosis and to follow up progress after surgery.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become an orthopaedic surgeon, you must first become a qualified doctor and then specialise in orthopaedic surgery.

To become a medical practitioner, you need to study a degree in medicine. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in medicine.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

To then specialise in orthopaedic surgery, you must register with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and undergo a training program at accredited hospitals, and ultimately receive fellowship.

To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for a minimum of two years (internship and residency).

Required registration and licensing

To work as an orthopaedic surgeon in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Board of Australia.