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What are your personal pros and cons of being an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Do you get paid more if you learn a language? Why do you like what you do? Did you know what you wanted to be from the start or did it alter throughout the years?

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Bether’s Answer

i am not an orthopedic surgeon but i have worked with them as a nurse and a nurse practitioner.
if you want to make money, this is a great job. ortho surgeons in tucson make like $550k a year. if you want flexibility or time off, forget it. if you plan on having a family you will not see them very much. i know a lot of cool ortho surgeons, but surgeons in general can be difficult to work with. and difficult to learn from in school. the schooling is super long and expensive. like the surgeon said it's super competitive to get into that program. the good news about being an ortho doc is that you can literally make some patients good as new. but the bad news is, there are many who you cannot and accepting your limitations and their feeling about the situation can be hard (like you have to amputate the leg of a 20 year old). plan on doing a ton of charting and continuing education. before you decide, talk to some ortho surgeons. it would also be worth talking to some ortho nurse practitioners and physician's assistants. they only go to school for a fraction of the time. and have reasonable student loans. they make like $120-150K a year. but you can get time off. or work part time. or take a year off for maternity leave, no big deal. tired of being an ortho NP? you can go work in a women's health clinic. or do urgent care or whatever. without going back to school. no problem. if you are an orthopedic surgeon it would be very difficult to change specialties. i would say most ortho surgeons are pretty burned out after about 15 years.
good luck!
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David’s Answer

I can't comment on orthopedic surgery other than saying it was not what I wanted to do. It didn't appeal to me intellectually, however, the idea of "fixing stuff" has an understandable draw.

Do you get paid more if you learn a language? I speak a few languages in addition to English. The advantage is the ability to relate linguistically and culturally to people from cultures outside of my own. It creates a trust and insights into culturally relevant medical attitudes. However, I have never been rewarded financially for this skill set.

Why do you like what you do? Our nervous system is how we perceive the world, and how we interact with everything- both internally and externally. It is just super-cool to understand how it works, and to try to ameliorate disease when it fails (we are still really bad at this, for a variety of reasons). I feel really privileged to try and help people retain both their outward and inward senses.

Did you know what you wanted to be from the start or did it alter throughout the years? Medicine and human biology can take you places where you might never have expected to go. I started off believing that I would practice tropical medicine- which I did for a year. I treated patients with Hansen's Disease (aka leprosy) and studied its biology. Hansen's Disease is an infection of the peripheral nerves, which led me to a life-long infatuation with the interaction of the immune system and the nervous. My best advice is to keep an open mind. Human biology is really coll and it can teach lots about how to treat patients for whom treatments remain elusive

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Terry’s Answer

Orthopaedic surgery is a very rewarding specialty. Being able to get people back to their level of activity is difficult at times but worth it. Whether it's fractures, reconstuction of arthritic joints or soft tissue injuries such as torn ligaments or tendons, putting people back together is what we do on a daily basis. It is hard work with long hours. It requires being on call for emergencies so we sometimes work late into the night or early mornings. That is the drawback. There are some subspecialties in orthopaedics that don't require as much call or late hours such as sports medicine. Trauma surgery is probably the most demanding as far as time.
Getting into an orthopaedic residency is very competitive so it is best to take a few orthopaedic electives in medical school. You can even take these at other institutions that you may be interested in doing your residency at. Orthopaedic residency is 5 year with fellowships 1-2 years.
A second language is beneficial but not a requirement. It really depends on where you train and eventually set up practice after residency. It does not pay more. There are translators available for some languages like Spanish.
I had a background in carpentry so that did help some. We do use a lot of tools like screwdrivers, hammers, saws and plates and screws
I started out clinicals in my second year of med school wanting to go into general surgery and changed my mind once I took an orthopaedic elective. I did another to make sure and then did four more months at two other out of state hospitals. I think that really helped when I interviewed for residency programs. I had quite a bit of experience when I started my first year of residency
Hope this helps
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