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Residency Program Structure

The UC San Diego Orthopaedic Residency Program strives for a balanced training experience, utilizing a variety of hospitals with predictable case loads, 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. There is an optional research track, a one-year research fellowship between PGY 1 and 2.


The goal of the PGY 1 year is to develop the knowledge and skills for evaluation of adult orthopedic and surgical patients, as well as outpatient care. Each resident 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. The resident 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 radiology, anesthesia, and rheumatology. The orthopedic rotations include:

Each resident will be involved in grand rounds, teaching sessions, morbidity and mortality conference, anatomy, and journal club. The first year provides the intern with a solid base of knowledge, focusing on musculoskeletal problems as well as the management of the surgical patient. Call responsibilities are very manageable, and there are several rotations with no call. The first few weeks of the PGY 1 year are dedicated to an orthopedic "boot camp", a combination of didactics and hands-on labs include trauma, arthroplasty, joint injections, physical exam skills, splinting/ casting, arthroscopy, radiation safety, and traction.


This year will allow for further development of physical exam skills, decision making processes, and musculoskeletal knowledge. The resident will also expand his/ her experience to pediatric patients at Rady's Childrens Hospital. In addition to the pediatric rotation, the resident will rotate on the hand service, VAMC, foot and ankle, and trauma. These rotations will broaden the resident's orthopedic knowledge base. During these rotations, under faculty guidance, you 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.


Your knowledge and clinical skills will increase during this year. Rotations include arthroplasty, VA, spine, and sports at both UC San Diego Medical Center and Rady Children's Hospital. This year will prepare you for senior call.


You are a senior resident during your last two years of training. All call is from home, except for the pediatric rotation. With graduated independence, you manage most of the inpatients, participate in operative decisions, further develop surgical skills and independence, and cultivate outpatient care. Rotations this year include sports at the Naval Medical Center, hand, trauma, pediatrics, and oncology. You will also be teaching junior residents and medical students.


As chief resident, you will rotate on trauma, the VA, arthroplasty, and an elective. Every chief resident attends the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting. This is your year to fine tune surgical skills and act as primary decision maker while on call (with attending back up).

Sample rotation schedule from Academic Year 2018-2019:

UC San Diego Orthopaedic Surgery Block Diagram (PDF)