Medical Student Clerkships

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery offers a variety of electives for both internal and external medical students interested in orthopaedics. Our electives take place across the Twin Cities at six unique rotation sites where students will be exposed to a wide variety of orthopaedic conditions. The overall goal for the rotation is for the student to have an opportunity to evaluate and treat common orthopaedic problems. To learn more about our program, please contact our medical student coordinator, Alyssa Boos. 

Course Descriptions

The overall goal for the rotation is for the medical student to have an opportunity to evaluate and treat common orthopaedic problems. Because of the aging population, disorders such as hip and knee arthritis and osteoporotic fractures will be seen more frequently, making exposure to orthopaedics essential to providing exceptional patient care. After you sign up for the rotation, we will contact you via email with specifics detailing arrival and any required paperwork.

ORSU 7190- General, Reconstructive, and Geriatric Orthopaedics: This course consists of supervised clinical experience in the primary care of both adult inpatients and outpatients with a major emphasis on reconstructive types of orthopaedic surgery at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Students have a great deal of individual ward and surgical responsibility and will be expected to present their cases and function at the junior resident level. While students do not take call themselves, they may choose to take call with the resident to whom they are assigned. This course is recommended for students interested in orthopaedic surgery careers and for students choosing a surgery track interest in a non-orthopaedic surgery career.

ORSU 7185-Externship in Orthopaedic Surgery: This course provides comprehensive, detailed exposure to orthopaedics for those students who are interested in orthopaedics or another surgical specialty, or who desire more experience in preparation for a career in family practice. Students will learn proper terminology to describe common injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, establish priorities of treatment, and participate as an assistant in common orthopaedic surgery procedures, identifying indications and describing possible complications. This rotation will take place at the University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview on West Bank.

ORSU 7188-Pediatric Orthopaedics: This course provides an opportunity for students with a special interest in pediatric orthopaedics and the care of children born with a musculoskeletal abnormality. The rotation takes place at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. Students will be able to develop a differential diagnosis of a child who walks with a limp, with bowlegs, or in-toeing, describing physical findings, lab, x-ray, and special studies employed to arrive at a final diagnosis. Upon completion, students should understand the team role in the management of the multi-system problems of children with myelodysplasia and cerebral palsy.

ORSU 7191-Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery: This course provides detailed exposure to orthopaedic reconstruction and trauma at Hennepin County Medical Center and Regions Hospital. Inpatient service, rounds, conferences, surgery, and outpatient clinics are available. Special emphasis is given in clinic to learning techniques of orthopaedic examination and diagnosis. This course would be valuable for students planning a career in orthopaedics, general surgery, or family practice.

ORSU 7192-Primary Care Orthopaedics: Students will be observing and assisting orthopaedic surgeons in a general orthopaedic practice at Park Nicollet-Methodist Hospital. The student's interest and initiative will determine the level of responsibilities and the extent of participation in surgical procedures. Students are also responsible for weekly case conference presentations. Upon completion, students should be able to perform a general and regional physical examination of the musculoskeletal system, be comfortable with common plaster splinting and casting techniques, including indications and possible complications, and participate as an assistant in common orthopaedic surgical procedures.

ORSU 7550-Orthopaedic Surgery and Otolaryngology for the Primary Care Provider: The orthopaedic surgery component of the Ortho/ENT selective is two weeks and concentrates on the areas of general orthopaedics, sports medicine, and pediatrics. This course is designed for students entering careers in primary care specialties and will provide students with perspective on the diagnosis and management of orthopaedic conditions. Each selective will be geared toward the student's desired orthopaedic interest. In all rotations, the student is expected to be involved in the clinic setting, pre-operative planning, assisting in the operating room, and post-operative call of patients.

For students

The orthopaedic surgery elective consists of 2-4 week rotations concentrating on the areas of general orthopaedics, sports medicine, and pediatrics. Each elective will be geared toward the student's desired orthopaedic interest and will allow for greater variability in the student's overall experience. Each student will be expected to understand the objectives as outlined in the course description. Depending on the student's selected rotation, he or she may be required to perform additional activities such as training room coverage or event coverage. The student will be expected to attend any conferences that are required by the residency curriculum. He or she may be requested to present cases at these conferences. The overall experience will be a mixture of diverse clinical exposure and operating room activity. The extent of the student's involvement in the operating room will be at the discretion of the orthopaedic attending.

We have a number of medical students who come and rotate with us. If you are one of them, you may find the following information useful:

Visiting scholars page

Here you will find our process for applying as a visiting medical student. All applications from LCME accredited schools are handled through VSAS and are controlled by our medical school administrative office, not the individual departments that a student may wish to rotate with. Since this is the case, we ask that you keep contact with our department, and we will do our best to get you in your desired course. Please reach out to our medical student coordinator, Alyssa Boos, with any questions.

Residency program page

Our residency program page provides information regarding rotation sites, faculty, and learning objectives. At Hennepin County Medical Center (ORSU 7191) and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (ORSU 7190), students work alongside our PGY-3s and PGY-5s, providing exposure to our residency program. The University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview campus (ORSU 7185), provides specialized orthopaedic care in spine, ankle/foot, tumor, shoulder, knees, and sports medicine. Students often get more out this rotation if they have been exposed to other general orthopaedic service. Rotations can be tailored-fit to special interests (i.e. hand/sports/spine). Our pediatric orthopaedic rotation available at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare (ORSU 7188) is consistently rated as having top educators.

Clerkship rotations

We recognize that often our rotation schedules do not align with visiting students’ availability. We may be flexible with our scheduling if requests are made far enough in advance and do not conflict with our own medical school. Our summer sessions can be very busy and fill quickly and some key faculty may be on holiday, so applying early is advised. Registration for visiting students will be processed after the add/cancel deadline for U of M students in order to give first priority to our own medical students. The medical school will process your application, however we have the ability to modify schedules and are in contact with the medical school about all applicants for away rotations. For further information, please contact our medical student coordinator, Alyssa Boos.


Grading for away rotations is based on the student's "home" institution criteria. We use an electronic evaluation process for all medical students called E*Value. Based on the evaluations received from other educators (residents/attendings/faculty), we will generate a final evaluation which will be completed by our Clerkship Directors, Dr. Alicia K. Harrison and Dr. David Jewison. It is the student's responsibility to provide correct documentation from your “home” institution.

Additional links

If you are in need of housing, see the temporary housing website. Please also review our recommendations for a strong candidate to our program. No visiting student is automatically granted an interview with our program.

Email if you need any further assistance

For educators

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery has the responsibility of helping students establish a solid foundation of musculoskeletal knowledge. All attending physicians and residents should know and understand the objectives for the course. This sets expectations for the rotation and establishes an accurate and fair basis for evaluation. Educators should be familiar with the student reading list for the rotation. 

We encourage educators to sit down with the student to set expectations on the first day of the rotation. The session should include:

  • Going over the student's schedule
  • Understanding the student's learning goals
  • Clarifying your expectations of students regarding patient care
  • Informing students what you value in student performance

The clerkship committee expectations of students are detailed in the evaluation forms found on E*Value. Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to do the following:

  • Perform an adequate orthopaedic history and physical examination of the musculoskeletal system, including assessment of joint motion and grading of muscle strength of the major muscle groups of the extremities
  • Use proper terminology to describe signs, symptoms, and treatment of common injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system
  • Develop a differential diagnosis of common orthopaedic conditions and outline a treatment plan to establish the proper diagnosis, description of physical findings, and inclusion of pertinent laboratory, x-ray, and special studies
  • Be familiar with the application of splints and casts for common extremity injuries

Timely feedback from faculty and residents is critical. Feedback should address areas of strength as well as those needing improvement. Ideally, the feedback should provide the opportunity to identify and correct any issues noted during the course. Any potentially serious deficiencies in student performance should be brought to the attention of the site coordinator as early in the rotation as possible. You should also obtain formal mid-rotation feedback from the student.


The site director at each teaching site bears the primary responsibility for the development and maintenance of a program to fulfill the learning objectives of the orthopaedic clerkship. The site director is responsible for organizing the specific ward and operative activities during the rotation, and is expected to address any issues or problems that are encountered. The site directors should periodically remind faculty members and residents of the objectives of the course. The site directors are also primarily responsible for the timely submission of student evaluations through e-value.

The attending physician has the primary responsibility for educating students in the ward, clinics, and operating room. All of the physician-teachers with whom the student has contact are expected to serve as positive role models. Faculty and residents are encouraged to provide students with positive direction through both questions and assignments. The students are expected to have read about the cases going on in the OR and faculty are encouraged to teach by asking questions and actively explaining different parts of the operative procedure to the student. In the clinics, give the students an opportunity to obtain their own history and physical examination, and provide feedback regarding this. The clinics and operating rooms are not only excellent sites for education, but are also a venue where potential future orthopaedic careers begin. 

If possible, provide the student the opportunity to do a short presentation on a specific topic. Encourage preparation by students prior to clinics and operative sessions by engaging them and letting them actively participate in patient care.


For a detailed description of Orthopaedic Surgery electives offered, please visit the Medical School information page.