Orthopaedic Rotations


  • 3rd year students:  You may apply for an orthopaedic rotation through the Department of Surgery.
  • 4th year students:  All applications for rotations are handled through the Student Affairs Office   You can find information about dates, electives offered, and other information through their website.


DEADLINE: We will accept applications from March 7 through April 4, 2016. Students should apply through the AAMC’s Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS).

Students must attend a school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).  To find out if your medical school is LCME accredited, you may go to http://www.lcme.org/

Applicants must provide the following additional information to Karen Gilliam, Residency Coordinator, karen_gilliam@med.unc.edu :

  1. Dates of rotation request including alternative rotation request
  2. Current CV including USMLE Step 1 score
  3. Brief personal statement including interest in Orthopaedic Surgery and UNC
  4. Medical school transcripts will be obtained through VSAS.   

Once these items are received, they are reviewed by Dr. Robert Esther, Program Director.  The applicant is informed via email (copy to the UNC Student Affairs Office) of acceptance as soon as a decision is made. 

We only accept rotation block dates that match UNC’s calendar. Five students are accepted each block. Visiting students may apply for Blocks 4 - 9:

Block 4 June 27 - July 22, Block 5 July 25 - August 19, Block 6 August 22 - September 16, Block 7 September 19 - October 14, Block 8 October 17 - November 11, Block 9 November 14 - December 9

If an applicant is approved for a rotation, they must contact the Student Affairs Office, dustin_norris@med.unc.edu, and accept the rotation on VSAS and complete all UNC Student Affairs’ requirements.

The Student Affairs Office will confirm placement in a rotation via VSAS, after the appropriate application process has been completed and the rotation dates have been approved.


ARE YOU SIGNED UP FOR A ROTATION?  We want to make your orthopaedic rotation as worthwhile as possible. It is very important that you read this "mini-text" before beginning your rotation on Orthopaedics because it provides a basic overview of orthopaedic surgery that can be digested during a clerkship that is only a few weeks long.  During your rotation, you will have the opportunity to learn basic principles of caring for patients with musculoskeletal problems.  Because of the prevalence of musculoskeletal problems encountered in our medical practice, the principles gained on this rotation will serve you in your future even if you do not pursue orthopaedics as a career.

To make the most of this experience, you must realize that surgery is a contact sport.  You must become an active member of your team.  Although you may not be the primary surgeon, you should learn about the patient’s condition and operation and follow the patient’s course as if you were the doctor solely responsible for that patient’s care.  You must try to anticipate the course of your patient's progress.  The  “C” student knows where the patient was yesterday.  A “B” student knows what has happened today.  The “A” student tries to anticipate what is likely to happen tomorrow and plans accordingly.

At this stage in your education, almost everything that happens is an opportunity to learn.  Unfortunately, we cannot teach you everything you need to know in advance.  When you do not understand something, ask a resident or look it up.  From here on out, the process of learning medicine is largely one of teaching yourself.  You can learn much about critical care, radiology, and primary care from orthopaedic patients, so even if you have no particular interest in orthopaedics, you can learn many important things about common problems.