Clinical training

Your clinical training in the Orthopedic Surgery Residency covers all subspecialty areas of orthopedics, including:

  • Adult reconstruction and its subdivisions
  • Foot surgery
  • Hand surgery
  • Microvascular surgery
  • Orthopedic oncology
  • Orthopedic trauma
  • Pediatric orthopedics
  • Spine surgery
  • Sports medicine

During your residency, you serve as a team physician for one of the local high schools or the junior college. You participate in all aspects of care for the athletes, including pre-participation examination, training, decision-making about continuing play, evaluation and treatment of injuries, and rehabilitation.

Rotation schedule

Rotation Length

General surgery

  • Emergency room surgical service
  • Critical care surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Peripheral vascular surgery
3 months

Physical medicine and rehabilitation

  • Spinal cord rehabilitation
  • Sports rehabilitation
  • Amputee clinic
1 month
Rheumatology 1 month
Neurosurgery 1 month
Orthopedic adult reconstruction (junior resident) 3 months
Rotation Length
Hand service/basic science course (junior resident) 3 months
Adult reconstruction/basic science course (junior resident) 3 months
Orthopedic trauma service (junior resident) 3 months
Senior resident 3 months
Rotation Length
Trauma and reconstruction (senior resident) 3 months

Off-campus rotation (senior resident)

  • Mayo Clinic in Florida sports and arthroscopy rotation (Jacksonville, Florida)
  • Nemours Children's Clinic within Wolfson Children's Hospital at Baptist Medical Center (Jacksonville, Florida)
  • R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical Center (Baltimore, Maryland)
3 months
Adult reconstruction (senior resident) 3 months
Orthopedic trauma service (senior resident) 3 months
Rotation Length
Orthopedic oncology (senior resident) 3 months
Pediatric orthopedics (senior resident) 3 months
Hand surgery (senior resident) 3 months

Trauma and reconstruction or:

  • Off-campus rotation
  • Senior resident (see PGY-3 list for options)
3 months
Rotation Length
Subspecialty reconstructive program (senior resident) 3 months
Trauma and reconstruction (senior or chief resident) 9 months

Rotation descriptions

Nonorthopedic rotations

During the first year of the Orthopedic Surgery Residency, you have six months in nonorthopedic rotations that help you develop knowledge and skills in areas associated with orthopedics. These rotations include:

  • Critical care surgery
  • Emergency room surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Plastic surgery
  • Rheumatology

Junior resident

During PGY-1 and PGY-2, you spend nine months in hospital and outpatient assignments as a junior resident. Your assignments vary somewhat according to your needs and prior experience.

Your orthopedic rotations include the orthopedic trauma service, pediatric orthopedics and adult reconstruction. During these rotations, under staff guidance, you become increasingly familiar with orthopedic literature, care of orthopedic inpatients, surgical techniques and the evaluation of outpatients, both in the clinic and the emergency room.

Basic science course

During six months of PGY-2, you are excused from clinical responsibilities in the afternoon while you complete the basic science course. This course includes didactic lectures presented by orthopedic staff members and faculty from allied fields, laboratory sessions, extensive reading, clinical conferences, and the opportunity to perform clinically relevant research.

Lecture topics include a broad spectrum of science related to the musculoskeletal system, such as:

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomechanics
  • Immunology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Microvascular surgery
  • Molecular biology
  • Orthotics
  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Prosthetics
  • Rheumatology

These topics are reinforced with laboratory experiences such as anatomy (cadaver dissection), motor skills and microvascular surgery laboratories. You also learn about orthopedic appliances and how they are used in trauma and reconstructive surgery.

Senior resident

You are a senior resident during your last three years of training. With considerable independence, you consult with orthopedic patients and participate in preoperative decisions, surgical procedures and postoperative management at the hospital and outpatient clinics.

Your rotation schedule includes blocks of time devoted to hand surgery, pediatric orthopedics and orthopedic oncology.

In addition to general orthopedics, during the trauma and reconstructive rotations, you have training that focuses on specific musculoskeletal disorders and injuries that involve the:

  • Ankle and foot
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Shoulder and elbow
  • Spine
  • Wrist and hand

Many faculty members have broad practices, so you gain experience in a wide variety of orthopedic conditions while assigned to one service.

Chief resident associate

During the end of PGY-4 and PGY-5, you have the opportunity to become a chief resident associate. You work more independently than a senior resident does while you manage patients with trauma, adult reconstructive problems and sports medicine problems.

This rotation gives you a diverse experience, often including trauma, in both pediatric and adult orthopedics, adult reconstruction, sports medicine, and surgery of the foot and hand. It introduces you to the various skills you will need to manage an orthopedic practice.

Off-site rotations

As a senior resident, you spend three or more months on an off-campus rotation. You may take a total of nine months on these rotations during your last three years. Your options include:

  • Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida — gain experience in sports medicine and arthroscopy
  • Nemours Children's Clinic within Wolfson Children's Hospital at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida — a large, academically oriented pediatric practice that provides experience with both trauma and elective orthopedics
  • R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland — exposure to a large academic trauma center

Mayo Clinic funds the authorized additional expenses for your travel, housing, car rental and licensure fees. Our residents consistently rate these rotations very highly.

Didactic training

Clinical conferences, seminars, small discussion groups, journal clubs and one-on-one instruction are an integral part of the Orthopedic Surgery Residency. You are encouraged to attend four or more of the 14 orthopedic conferences that are available each week.

Research training

Your research opportunities at Mayo Clinic are outstanding. Orthopedic research laboratories are established in biomechanics, biochemistry and cell biology, cartilage metabolism, microvascular surgery, and molecular biology.

During your residency, you learn research methodology and complete at least one patient-related research project. If you elect to participate in laboratory-based research, you will likely conduct research during your third year of training. Statistical support is available on the orthopedic floor and through the Department of Health Sciences Research.

When doing laboratory research, you exchange six months of clinical training during the trauma and reconstruction rotation for basic laboratory training under the guidance of a full-time staff member. This allows you to earn a master's degree. The degree requirements include preparing and carrying out a research project, writing a thesis, and passing written and oral examinations.

Clinician-Investigator Training Program

The Clinician-Investigator Training Program offers an additional year of clinical and research training following your residency. This prepares you for an academic career as either a clinician or a basic science investigator. You become competent in clinical orthopedics and are able to conduct independent laboratory research of the musculoskeletal system.

The clinician-investigator curriculum includes a teaching program of special seminars, specifically designed course work, and 18 months of research in one or more of four laboratories within the Department of Orthopedics. The research is performed concurrently with and in addition to your residency training.

You may apply for a clinician-investigator position during the first or second year of your residency (PGY-1 or PGY-2). As part of that application process, you must select a research project and staff adviser.

Call frequency

Your call schedule varies by rotation. Mayo Clinic follows the schedule recommendations of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Additional training

At the conclusion of the Orthopedic Surgery Residency, you may wish to continue your graduate medical education at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education. Postgraduate fellowships are available in:

  • Adult reconstruction
  • Ankle and foot surgery
  • Hand surgery
  • Musculoskeletal oncology
  • Spine surgery

If you are accepted for a fellowship, you continue to receive in-depth, daily, one-on-one training with a consultant. You also have the opportunity to increase your own supervisory and administrative skills. Contact the program director for more information about these opportunities.


To ensure that you acquire adequate knowledge and develop your technical skills, your performance is monitored carefully during the course of the Orthopedic Surgery Residency. You are evaluated formally by your supervising faculty member after each clinical rotation. In addition, you regularly evaluate the faculty to ensure that your educational needs are being met.

June 10, 2014