Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus

Degree of Master of Surgery (Orthopaedics), MChOrth

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 05 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:gp173
  1. Shah Alam Khan, assistant professor
  1. Department of Orthopaedics, New Delhi, India shahalamkhan{at}


Department of Musculoskeletal Science, Royal Liverpool Hospital, Prescot Street, Liverpool L7 8XP. Tel 0151 706 4120, fax 0151 706 5815,

Who's it for?

The degree is mainly for those interested in a career in orthopaedics who have completed or are about to complete their registrar rotation and who are waiting for a consultant post. It is also useful for international medical graduates planning to return home after a period of training in the United Kingdom.

When did you do it?

I completed it in December 2004. I did it as a specialist registrar.

Why did you do it?

I was aiming to return to my country early and since the course is popular at home, it was a good idea to do it at that stage.

How much effort was entailed?

There are three to four tutorials each month, with the initial emphasis on basic sciences and biostatistics. The modules in biostatistics are generally the most difficult to understand and require special effort from the candidates. After the first semester exams in January, candidates must submit protocols for a prospective research thesis. You are allowed to do the research activity under the supervision of a clinician at your hospital. Most theses should be submitted within the next 18 months, after which there is a second and final exam. The thesis is assessed byan external examiner.

Exam and fee structure

Since this is considered to be an exit exam in orthopaedics, it has an exam at the end of each session and at the end of the course. The course lasts between two and four years. The final exam is in line with the FRCSOrtho exam, with both theory and practical assessment. Candidates are tested in every aspect of orthopaedic surgery including trauma, cold orthopaedics, musculoskeletal imaging, clinical cases (long and short), and a ward round. Candidates must pass a statistics module to clear the final exam. The course fee is £8000 for international medical graduates and £3000 for home students.

Top tip

Have a thesis topic prepared before you go for the interview, as the emphasis on the thesis is immense. It's best to talk to your consultant about possible topics as the thesis can be done outside Liverpool University.

Was it worth it?

The course is particularly helpful for international medical graduates from India. The course gives good insight into the musculoskeletal curriculum, mainly for postgraduates aiming to achieve a degree in orthopaedic surgery. The statistics module is useful for scientific research and paper writing. It has helped me to pursue an academic career in orthopaedics.

Completion of an exhaustive thesis on a current orthopaedic topic is essential before doing the final exam. With part time availability for students who are in a job, the emphasis on site teaching needs to be improved. Also, there is a need to evaluate and improve the course teaching modules.