Orthopedic surgeons specialize in treating patients and operating on a range of problems of the human musculoskeletal system, including congenital deformities, tumors, traumas, infections, degenerative diseases, and fractures.
Similar to other surgeons, orthopedic surgeons are often responsible for reviewing patients’ medical history, updating charts on current findings, ordering tests or evaluations from nurses, assessing test results for abnormalities, recommending a treatment plan for surgery, and answering any questions from patients about their recovery.
How much does an orthopedic surgeon make? Orthopedic surgeons are among the highest paid in all occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 42,410 surgeons employed throughout the United States earn a mean annual salary of $230,540, which is equivalent to an average hourly wage of $110.84.
While the bottom ten percent with little to no experience in the profession earns $122,910, the top ten percent of orthopedic surgeons bring home an average annual salary of more than $481,000. Orthopedic surgeons employed at outpatient care centers make $221,480 and those at general surgical hospitals make an average $218,630, but the highest paid are employed at specialty hospitals with a mean annual salary of $238,120.
The vast majority of orthopedic surgeons are employed within a state, local, or private hospital setting. Others may work in a private practice, group practice, healthcare organization, or clinic with a supportive staff of nurses and other administrative personnel. Orthopedic surgeons do work in a sterile environment that protects both patient and surgeon from harm, but they often are required to stand for long periods of time without rest. Most of the surgeons work long, irregular hours with evening or overnight shifts a common occurrence. While on call, orthopedic surgeons may also need to address patients’ concerns immediately with an emergency visit to the hospital of employment.
The large aging baby boomer population is expected to drive the overall growth of the demand for orthopedic surgeons as patients continue to seek high levels of care for degenerative diseases of the bones and muscles. Along with the continued expansion of the healthcare industry, employment for orthopedic surgeons is predicted to grow more rapidly than the national average for all professions at a rate of 24 percent between 2010 and 2020.