• Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program

Educational goals of the program

Thank you for your interest in the UC Davis Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program.  Each year, the UC Davis Department of Orthopaedic Surgery matches 5 new residents from an applicant pool of over 600.  Our goal is to provide an educational experience and environment so that at the completion of training, each resident has gained the  professional knowledge, skills, and ability to enter  the practice as highly competent, well-trained orthopaedic surgeons.  Our program is fully accredited by the ACGME, and offers a well-rounded clinical and academic experience in each of the orthopaedic subspecialties.  In addition, the research experience gained during training will produce community-based surgeons and academicians who will remain discriminating scientists and who will review the literature and new developments with a critical and scientifically objective eye.

Orthopaedic Surgery Training Experience

There are 26 residents in our program at any given time.  One resident per class is matched into our 6-year research track and will spend an additional year performing full-time research between the PG-2 and PG-3 years of training.  Our residents provide preoperative, operative, and postoperative care for a diverse population of patients with increasing levels of independence.  Our program has a diverse group of faculty with a wide breadth of orthopaedic experience.  The orthopaedic didactic program at UC Davis includes a two-year comprehensive core curriculum, daily triage conferences, weekly Grand Rounds, service-specific journal club meetings, monthly quality improvement conferences and weekly subspecialty conferences. 

UC Davis Residents rotate at three-month intervals in all of the key subspecialty services which function as small practice groups under the leadership of the chief resident (who has full responsibility for patient care), with close supervision of and teaching by attending staff. Delegation of patient care responsibilities to residents is not directly tied to the year in training. Rather, faculty delegate to the resident as quickly as the resident’s capabilities merit. Faculty provide attending consultation 24 hours a day and on all operative cases.

Residents also benefit from rotations at Shriners Hospital for Children, Northern California (conveniently located on our Sacramento campus) as well as Kaiser Permanente located in South Sacramento. In addition, the research experience gained during training is designed to produce community-based surgeons and academicians who will remain discriminating scientists and who will review the literature and new developments with a critical and scientifically objective eye.  Our residents have access to both basic science and animal laboratories at both the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento as well as the UC Davis main campus in Davis.


The first year of training is a combination of medical and surgical rotations. Residents complete rotations in, radiology, plastic surgery, emergency medicine, general trauma surgery, burn surgery, surgical intensive care as well as orthopaedic hand surgery, orthopedic trauma surgery, emergency room orthopedics, orthopaedic spine surgery, and pediatric orthopedic surgery. In addition, residents will receive longitudinal training in basic surgical skills.


The second year of training offers experience in managing different orthopedic conditions in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Second-year residents provide orthopedic consultations in our emergency rooms. The operating room experience emphasizes acquiring basic psychomotor technical skills and learning the fundamental principles of anatomy, surgical dissection, and orthopedic surgery. During each rotation, PG-2 residents serve as the junior resident of a clinical service. Developing basic orthopedic knowledge is paramount during this year.  Rotations in hand surgery, sports medicine, pediatric orthopaedic surgery and orthopaedic trauma are included in the PG-2 year.


At this point in the program, residents should have the knowledge and experience to more actively direct the care of patients. On some rotations, residents will report directly to a fellow or to the attending faculty. In the third year, residents complete rotations in spine surgery, orthopaedic trauma, pediatric orthopaedic surgery, adult reconstruction surgery and foot and ankle surgery. Experience in both inpatient and outpatient care, as well as in the operating room, increases at this level. Residents actively participate in more and increasingly complex cases, which prepares them for the senior resident years.


Responsibility for patient care continues to increase, and in some rotations, residents report directly to the fellows and attending staff. Although the fifth-year resident on each service is the chief resident, residents have specific clinical responsibilities in the fourth year in which they function as the supervising resident. This year of training is a pivotal shift from a junior to senior resident, and expectations and responsibilities grow accordingly. Residents become more actively involved in the development of treatment plans for both outpatients and inpatients, while moving into the roles of primary surgeon and first assistant in the operating room. Fourth-year residents are expected to make the transition to a more senior role on the care team.


During the final year of training, residents function as the chief resident of a multiple-resident service, which varies from two to four residents depending on the rotation. Chief residents are responsible for all clinical activities of the service, including inpatient and outpatient care, as well as all operating room activity. The coordination of all resident and fellow activity and the oversight of the care provided are the responsibility of the chief resident. Chief Residents work directly with the chief of service and other members of the teaching faculty. The role as primary surgeon and first assistant in the operating room continue. 

Case material

A large volume and diversity of clinical exposure is available to provide a complete and effective educational experience. Residents perform an average of 1,800 – 2,100 cases during their orthopaedic training. This includes an appropriate number of cases in the following areas: trauma, adult reconstruction, pediatric, hand, foot and ankle, sports medicine, spine, oncology, microsurgery and metabolic disorders.

Faculty support

The faculty at all participating institutions possess general and subspecialty expertise and provide instruction in a wide spectrum of orthopaedic disciplines. They serve as mentors and role models with respect to moral, ethical and patient care issues.

The department's educational philosophy is to give the resident first priority in the diagnostic/therapeutic decision-making process and performance of surgery, but to have an attending surgeon always available to ensure a superlative level of patient care and to maximize the resident's learning experience. One hundred percent of the department's residents have become board-certified orthopaedic surgeons.


The department offers one six-year residency position annually, providing one year of extensive research investigation between the PG-2 and PG-3 level. Additional research time for all residents is available throughout the residency program to meet the requirements for graduation. Residents select an area of interest and may use the facilities and technical equipment available at the Lawrence J. Ellison Musculoskeletal Research Center or participate in a clinical study. Residents must present their research at the completion of their residency. The department encourages residents to  present their results at national conferences and to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals. The department sponsors residents for some national and major regional meetings at which they present a paper, subject to the approval of the department chair.

Affiliated Hospitals

Resident training takes place at the UC Davis Medical Center, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Northern California and Kaiser Permanente Hospital South. Residents complete three month rotations during the PG-2 and PG-3 levels at Shriners Hospital, where they participate actively in the management of difficult cases involving children with orthopaedic disorders, deformities or diseases. All Shriners faculty have academic appointments with the UC Davis Health, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Weekly didactic case presentations and a resident library enrich the educational experience. The three-month rotations at Kaiser South at the PG-4 level is very popular as it provides extensive adult and general orthopaedics exposure.

Commitment to Diversity

The UC Davis Department of Orthopedic Surgery is committed to supporting the goals of the AAOS in fostering diversity in orthopedics, including understanding and responding to the diversity of the patient population, enhancing the delivery of culturally competent care, and supporting efforts to diversify the profession and orthopedic workforce.

As part of our effort to meet these goals, the department’s educational program is committed to identifying and training qualified women and members of underrepresented minority groups who are interested in orthopedic surgery.

If you have any questions as to whether or not your medical school curriculum meets the requirements for licensure in the State of California, please contact the Medical Board of California at 916-263-2382. All residents entering the program must be eligible for a Postgraduate Training License.