Orthopaedic Surgery

Competitiveness: Extreme

Orthopaedic Surgery is among the most competitive residency positions, especially for International Medical Graduates (IMGs). The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery suggests residency applicants interested in Orthopaedic Surgery should start early and locate a mentor. It is also important to establish connections and network throughout the Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery professional community. For example, an orthopaedic research or mini-research fellowship project should be included in your residency application. Like many other specialties, the appropriate Letters of Recommendation from well-known orthopaedic surgeons can also go a long way. Throughout medical school, ortho-applicants should strive for the highest grades and performance. Orthopaedic Surgery is a demanding specialty that expects the best from its future residents.

ENTER YOUR CREDENTIALS Customize your Orthopaedic Surgery program list

IMG Profile

Average Stats for a Matched US IMG in 2020:

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 241
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 242
  • Research: 3.0
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 58.4
  • Work: 4.6
  • Volunteer: 4.6

Average Stats for a Matched Non-US IMG in 2020:

  • USMLE Step 1 score: 249
  • USMLE Step 2 CK score: 255
  • Research: 14.8
  • Abstracts/Presentations/etc: 43.3
  • Work: 5.0
  • Volunteer: 5.8

Specialty Factors

Every specialty has unique factors they want each candidate to have in their residency application. NRMP conducts regular Program Director surveys to identify which parts of the residency application are most important in differing specialties. Among the information gathered, Program Directors were asked to cite factors they used to select candidates for interviews. They were also asked to rate each factor on a scale from 1 (least important) to 5 (most important).

The Top 5 Most Important Orthopaedic Surgery Application Factors

Percentage of Programs Citing Each Factor

  1. USMLE Step 1 score (97%)
  2. Specialty specific Letters of Recommendation (86%)
  3. Audition elective/rotation within your department (81%)
  4. Evidence of professionalism and ethics (78%)
  5. Class ranking/quartile (75%)

Average Importance Rating for Each Factor (scale of 1 to 5)

  1. Applicant was flagged with Match violation by the NRMP (4.9)
  2. Any failed attempt in USMLE (4.8)
  3. Evidence of professionalism and ethics (4.7)
  4. Leadership qualities (4.6)
  5. Letters of recommendation in the specialty (4.5)

Fast Facts

Total Training 5 years (minimum) + 2 years clinical practice
Average Residency Salary $69,500
Average Physician Salary $537,000
Average Work Week 57 Hours
Peak Interview Months December, January
Key Organizations and Societies: American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Diversity in Orthopaedics
American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics
Clinical Orthopaedic Society
Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction Society
Orthopaedic Research and Education
  • Orthopaedic surgery is one of the least IMG-friendly specialties.

Match Statistics

Main Residency Match and Post-Match Stats


IMGs Matched

203 /

Number of Programs/Positions


Post-Match SOAP Unfilled Positions

Main Residency Match


Post-Match SOAP

Program Track PGY-1
Participating Programs 4
Filled Programs 4
Positions Available 4
Filled Positions 4


  • Adult Reconstructive Orthopaedics
  • Hand surgery
  • Shoulder and elbow surgery
  • Total joint reconstruction (arthroplasty)
  • Pediatric orthopedics
  • Foot and ankle surgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Musculoskeletal oncology
  • Surgical sports medicine