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Residency Program Overview

About the Program

The UC San Diego Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program strives for a balanced training experience, utilizing a variety of hospitals with predictable caseloads, responsibilities, and opportunities. Resident rotations in each post-graduate year (PGY) are aimed at maximizing the benefit of the training experience within the context of the areas of clinical strengths at the various participating institutions.

Two Training Tracks

Our program offers two training tracks: (1) a five-year clinical track, and (2) a six-year research track, which includes one dedicated year of research during the second year of training. Each year our program matches four residents to the five-year clinical track and one resident to the six-year research track.

Rotations at a Glance:


* During PGY1 year, residents complete 6 months of ortho rotations; and 6 months of non-orthopaedic rotations.
** Each rotation is a 10-11 week block:

– During PGY3 year; residents complete two split rotations; Adult Sports / Pediatric Sports, and Oncology / Foot and Ankle
– During PGY4 year, residents complete one split rotation; Oncology / Foot and Ankle
– During PGY5 year, residents complete one split rotation; Oncology / Sports Medicine


Program by Year


PGY-1 Year develops your knowledge and skills for evaluation of adult orthopedic and surgical patients, as well as outpatient care. You will master basic surgical skills and clinical skills for patient care. Surgical decision-making skills, indications for non-operative and operative treatment, and professionalism will be emphasized. 

You will be part of the orthopedic team for six months, spend three months on various general surgery services including plastic surgery, and one month each on emergency medicine, anesthesia, and rheumatology.

Rotations: 6 months Orthopaedic Surgery; 3 months each of the following: General Surgery Trauma, Plastic Surgery/Burn Care, Surgical, and Vascular Surgery, Anesthesiology, Emergency Medicine, Rheumatology, Basic Surgical Skills Training


PGY-2 Year allows you to further develop your physical exam skills, decision making processes, and musculoskeletal knowledge. You will become increasingly familiar with orthopedic literature, care of orthopedic inpatients, surgical techniques and the evaluation of outpatients, both in the clinic and the emergency room.

Rotations: Ortho Trauma, Spine, Pediatric Orthopaedics, Adult Ortho, Hand


PGY-3 Year increases your knowledge and clinical skills and prepares you for senior level call.

Rotations: Oncology, Foot & Ankle, Joints, Adult Ortho, Sports Medicine, Research


During PGY-4 Year you are given graduated independence, manage most of the inpatients, participate in operative decisions, further develop surgical skills, and cultivate outpatient care. The majority of call is taken from home and you help teach junior residents and medical students.

Rotations: Ortho Trauma, Spine, Oncology, Foot & Ankle, Sports Medicine, Pediatric Orthopaedics


PGY 5 Year as a Chief Resident, this is your year to fine tune surgical skills and act as a primary decision maker while on call (with attending back up).

Rotations: Ortho Trauma, Hand, Oncology, Joints, Adult Ortho, Sports Medicine


Grand Rounds

Topics include basic science, subspecialty clinical updates, radiology, and visiting speakers.

Morbidity & Mortality conference

Faculty and trainees come together on a monthly basis to create a forum for reviewing cases and learning from each other to improve health care delivery and patient safety.

Subspecialty conference

Residents and faculty meet with their respective services for case and article presentations and discussions.

Core lectures

8-10am: Faculty-led lectures covering all clinical areas, rotating every 2 years. Includes a dedicated 2 month block reviewing in-training topics.
10-11am: Resident-led lectures covering various clinical topics.

Journal club

Residents and faculty meet together to discuss journal articles in an informal atmosphere. Each month focuses on a different subspecialty.

Weekly anatomy dissections

There is a 2 month block of weekly anatomy dissections. Every week focuses on a different anatomical region. The dissections are led by faculty and the residents have ample opportunity for hands on experience.

Quarterly sawbones


Quarterly saw bones for fracture fixation and total joint arthroplasty, usually including a brief didactic lecture from faculty, followed by using the supplied implants in simulated fractures and arthroplasty.

cadaver lab


Throughout the year, there are opportunities to train on arthroscopy techniques using cadavers.

Specialty-Specific Educational Activities


During each rotation, residents will also participate in educational activities organized by the service with which they are training.

Research Teaching Conferences

A series of lectures are given on Tuesday mornings to the research resident, fellows, and graduate students. These cover the orthopaedic research aspects of physiology, bioengineering, biochemistry, and statistics.


Learn more about our Residency Program training locations.

View all Rotation Locations