What It Means To Be Fellowship-Trained: Explaining Your Orthopaedist’s Credentials

February 16, 2022 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

What does it mean to be fellowship-trained? What have your doctors gone through to be able to provide accurate, effective, high-quality medical care in their field? At Raleigh Orthopaedic, we want our patients to understand the high standards to which we hold our providers so they can place their trust in us with confidence. Here’s a little more information on what it takes to be a fellowship-trained physician. 

What Does “Fellowship-Trained” Mean?

After residency, physicians are not required to complete a fellowship. In fact, not every physician is qualified as only ideal candidates are selected to become fellows. When a physician is fellowship trained, it means they’ve participated in what’s known as a fellowship program in order to become an expert in their chosen field. During the fellowship program, a doctor will follow an experienced specialist, training with that physician to provide medical care in that specialized field. For example, a physician may already be an orthopaedic specialist, but if they’d like to become an expert in the spine, they would complete a fellowship training program in spinal surgery. It’s important to note that fellowships are no walk in the park — a fellowship program can require a physician to participate in hundreds of specialized surgeries before they receive their credentials.

How Long Do These Qualifications Take?

It’s not easy to become a doctor, and receiving the amount of education required to practice medicine in the first place takes a long time. Let’s walk through the process every doctor must complete in order to be able to treat you:

  • Doctors must complete a four-year undergraduate degree.
  • Then, they must complete four years of medical school.
  • After med school, doctors must complete a five-year residency program.
  • After a residency, only the best candidates in the program will be selected to participate in a fellowship program, which lasts for an additional year.
  • In order to become board certified, a physician must complete their respective board’s required amount of training, which can last between 3-7 years.

Every physician who practices medicine in the United States has dedicated nearly a quarter of their lifetime to receive the training required to treat their patients. When you see that your doctor is fellowship-trained or board certified, you know that beyond those 15 years, they’ve dedicated even more time and effort to become the best in their field and offer their patients the highest level of expertise possible.

At Raleigh Orthopaedic, our physicians are highly trained specialists who only provide care in one or two subspecialty areas. So what does that mean for our patients? It means that if you injure your knee, it’s comforting to know that your provider specializes in knee injury, knows the best options for treatment and recovery, and performs hundreds of knee surgeries every year in the event surgery is needed. With higher quality care, comes higher quality outcomes.


To learn more about our team of dedicated physicians, visit our provider page by clicking HERE