Sep 5, 2016
Medical Student
Hello all,

New to SDN 3rd year DO student who's committed to orthopedic surgery. Comlex 630, USMLE 240, SSP, class rank top 15%. I am planning on scheduling 4 audition rotations during my first semester of 4th year at the programs I'm most interested in, but will apply to all osteopathic programs. I have read that audition rotations are extremely important, and you're almost guaranteed not to get an interview from programs you didn't rotate at. Does this mean that out of my 4 aways, I'm only realistically going to receive around 2 interview invites (assuming half the programs I rotate at invite me for an interview)?

My second question is regarding back up specialties. I don't want to apply for a back up specialty because I want to focus on orthopedic surgery 100%, but due to the competitiveness of ortho and since I may only receive a few interview invites should I consider a back up specialty? I can see myself in PM&R if I don't do ortho, but I don't want to apply for general surgery. Is PM&R a reasonable specialty when applying ortho as well, or will program directors look down on that?

lastly, I would like to be helpful and teachable on my away rotations. What should I focus on during my away rotations and how can I make myself available, affable, and able?
Last edited:
May 7, 2015
Resident [Any Field]
You have a solid application for orthopedics, but you aren't a shoe in. You will most likely get more than just 2 interviews, as many programs still invite people who don't rotate, though they are in the minority. I think PM&R is a very reasonable back up. I don't think having a back up specialty is anything that is not looked poorly on, in fact I think it's the smart thing to do. I know too many people who on paper looked like shoe ins that ended up scrambling because they didn't have a back up. Have a back up, just don't go announcing it to the world when you're rotating (P.S., program directors can't see which programs you applied to).

In terms of being a good student on audition rotations, this has been explained many times before on these forums, and you should definitely do a search as there are some great threads. But the basics are basics, be observant of the workflow of the service, despite what it may seem like sometimes, students can be a huge help to residents (esp the interns). If as the month goes on I can tell that you are improving and learning to anticipate how to interject yourself as a useful member of the service, then you are already a notch above most of the students who rotate. Also, talk when there is conversation to be had, don't ask questions you know the answers to or can easily be looked up in the reading just so you have something to say to residents. Be there early, stay late, don't ask to leave early, most places will let you go when there is nothing meaningful for you to do or learn. Also, read, read, read. Honestly by the end of your audition season you should have the adult section of Handbook memorized, and high yield parts of the peds section down. You should know the high yield parts of netters in terms of anatomy, and it should go without saying that you should be familiar with basic approaches (posterior approach to hip, volar approach wrist etc.). A lot of times it's as simple as looking at the schedule for the next day, and reading up the approach or surgery on orthobullets or youtube. So many pimp questions are highlighted right there it really becomes an easy way to shine. In fact, as as a student, your only responsibility is to read, I'd dare say that I was smarter orthopedics wise after 6 months straight of orthopedics than I am now as an intern having done only off service rotations. Lastly, don't gun. Remember that residents have been doing this for at least twice as long as you have. Just be normal, hard working, and a team player. Sometimes when we see that you are well liked by not only residents but also other students tells us that you are truly easy to get along with.