Health Service Categories and Careers


Orthopaedic Surgery is concerned with the musculoskeletal system of the human body. Practice seeks to provide quality care to patients, which includes assessment, management, surgical and non-surgical treatment, follow up care, and rehabilitation. The term comes from the Greek work ‘ortho’ which means ‘correct’ or ‘straight’, and ‘pais,’ which means child. Historically, orthopaedics frequently applied to the care of crippled children with spine or limb deformities, however, nowadays, it applies to both the paediatric and adult population, and involves many subspecialty areas. It is underpinned by basic sciences, including the anatomy and pathology of the musculoskeletal system (including the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves). It looks at biomechanics and motion, materials and engineering, immunology and inflammation, neurovascular conditions, pharmacology, radiology and other investigations. Common orthopaedic medical conditions include musculoskeletal trauma, fractures, infections, cancers and tumours, congenital disorders, degenerative diseases, and sports injuries. This field of medicine demands medical competency in clinical assessment and patient management, and surgical expertise to perform a range of procedures and provide pre-operative, intra operative, and post operative care.

Subspecialty areas in Orthopaedic Surgery relate to the body part, age of patient, or condition. These include arthroplasty, hand surgery, knee, paediatrics, oncology and sarcoma, shoulder and elbow, spine, trauma, foot and ankle, limb lengthening and reconstruction, and research. Orthopaedic health services are provided in hospitals and private clinics and involve multidisciplinary teams and collaboration between Orthopaedic surgeons and other medical, health, and allied health practitioners.

Orthopaedic Surgery Jobs

Orthopaedic Surgeons specialise in preventing, diagnosing and treating disorders and injuries of the bone, ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints. They treat all ages, and some choose to specialise in one area of the body such as the hands or spine. They treat congenital and acquired conditions such as arthritis, bone tumours, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures and broken bones, and sports injuries. They receive extensive training in the diagnosis and surgical, as well as non-surgical, treatment of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopaedic surgery a competitive surgical specialty. To pursue a career as an Orthopaedic Surgeon, registered doctors in their PGY3+ can apply to undertake the Australian Orthopaedic Association (AOA) training, which is a 5-year training program that leads to Fellowship with RACS and AOA, and Specialist registration with AHPRA.

Registrars (General and Specialty Surgery – Othopaedics) are registered doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with Ahpra and can now undertake specialist/or vocational training positions to broaden and refine their scope of practice and gain experience, skills and competency in their chosen area of medicine. Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff. Registrars who want to pursue a career in Orthopaedics Surgery, or a surgical specialty, can undertake advanced training with RACS. Registrars work under orthopaedic surgeons and develop procedural skills, surgical techniques, clinical expertise, and valuable work experience in providing medical care, and surgical and non-surgical management of patients with conditions relating to their surgical specialty.

Nurses (Orthopaedics) work in orthopaedic and bone/fracture clinics in hospitals. They remove and set casts, educate and support patients, and work within the wider health care team providing care for people with orthopaedic conditions.