Becoming an orthopedic hand surgeon typically means making a commitment to many years of studying and hard work. After high school or its equivalent, you will likely have to complete four years of college and four years of medical school in order to become an orthopedic hand surgeon. Following medical school, however, your training will usually continue with a residency, which is a type of on-the-job training that may last for about five years. Since you want to specialize in caring for the hand, you may also participate in specialty training called a fellowship. In many cases, this type of training lasts for about a year or two.
Your preparation to become an orthopedic hand surgeon may begin with your high school education. In high school, you can prepare yourself for the intense study of science by taking classes in such areas as biology, chemistry, and anatomy. Other science courses, however, may prove important as well. Excelling in math and composition courses may also help you prepare for college classes. Additionally, public-speaking classes or activities may help you build communication skills important for a career in the medical field. If you do not graduate from high school, most colleges will accept a GED credential instead.
Upon gaining admission to college, you may decide to choose a science major in preparation for medical school. Many aspiring surgeons choose such majors as biology, chemistry, or pre-medicine. In most cases, however, medical schools are willing to accept applicants from a variety of majors. Maintaining a high grade point average is usually more important than your choice of majors. Medical school admission staff may also consider your choice of extracurricular activities, recommendations from professors, and the results of pre-admission testing in deciding whether or not to accept your application.
Once you enroll in medical school, you will typically spend four years studying to become an orthopedic hand surgeon. In most cases, however, you won’t spend all of this time in a classroom. Instead, medical school typically includes classroom education and training in a clinical setting.
After medical school, you will typically complete a residency as you prepare to become an orthopedic hand surgeon. The length of this residency may depend on the jurisdiction in which you are working to become a doctor, however. In many places, this type of residency training lasts for about five years. Most jurisdictions also require aspiring surgeons to take a licensing exam before they can practice medicine; you may take this exam during your residency. Additionally, you may complete a post-residency fellowship to gain sub-specialty training as an orthopedic hand surgeon.