The orthopaedic training pathway is one of the most competitive surgical subspecialties to get into (see competition ratios). There are a number of possible routes to take to become a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon.

After completing Foundation Year Training and Core Surgical Training (or attaining the equivalent competencies elsewhere), doctors apply for Higher Specialty Training in Trauma and Orthopaedics and attend the ST3 interviews. There are a number of run through posts available for academics but these are very few and have a separate application process. The orthopaedic training pathway can be expected to take a minimum of 10 years post medical school.

Training pathway

A few facts on Trauma and Orthopaedics (as of 2020):

  • T&O makes up 26% of the consultant surgical workforce in the UK.
  • Similarly 26% of all surgical training registrars are in the T&O sub specialty.
  • This is a total of 2,750 T&O consultants and 1,725 T&O registrars.
  • 7.3% of T&O consultants and 20.6% of T&O trainees are female – this is improving but sadly far behind other specialties.
  • 70% of current T&O consultants obtained their primary medical degree from the UK.
  • The largest sub specialties within T&O are Knee, Hip and Trauma.
  • 2/3 of T&O consultants undertake private work in addition to their NHS workload.
Percentage of women in the UK surgical workforce

Percentage of women in the UK surgical workforce

Graph above and stats from Newman et al, BMJ Open 2022

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