Medical education is at the foundation of academic medicine and your future careers. At Penn Orthopaedics, our goal is to provide you with the best musculoskeletal education and training along with practical advising, sage mentoring and career advocacy.

Junior Student Education

While musculoskeletal education is spread throughout the curriculum, we support multiple avenues for learning through your junior one and one-half years. For starters, if you have an early interest in orthopaedic surgery specifically, surgery in general or want to broaden your clinical horizons, we provide opportunities for you meet one or more of our surgeons and shadowing in the operating room / clinic (or, in some cases, joining a research project). Please see list below for available surgeons. If you are considering, please take a look at an example shadowing document created for pre-medical shadow-ers: You are encouraged to contact surgeons directly after looking up their profiles to understand their practice. Unsure, unclear or want more than a link? You are welcome to contact Drs. Bernstein or O’Connor at any time. They are happy to provide guidance in and out of the hospital. To enrich these interactions, you can engage the Leo Leung Orthopaedic Society for additional resources and activities. Our faculty and residents participate in multiple events throughout the year including a hands-on "fix a fracture" session, typically in the spring. If you're interested in orthopaedics, engage us early; there's a lot to take advantage of, the field remains a very competitive match and excellence will be the expectation. But don't be afraid; every single Penn Med graduate going into orthopaedic surgery was once clueless and nervous.

Clerkship Student Education

Before graduation, all PSOM students will complete and pass "Ortho 200". But regardless of interest in orthopaedic surgery, take everything you can from this course. Remember that musculoskeletal complaints represent the #1 or #2 reasons that people see their doctors and that the morbidity from those disorders are among the greatest in medicine. Students can always contact their teaching-loving and award-winning professor, Joe Bernstein (Lindback, Penn Pearls), and refer back to that great topic-based Q&A packet.

Elective / "Sub-I" Student Education

Students exploring or headed toward orthopaedic surgery should take one or two rotations respectively at "home". One of our strengths at PSOM is that we offer rotations in specific subspecialties. Please apply per JMEC guidelines if you are a PSOM student. If you are not and want to visit us, fantastic. Please go to visiting students and apply for a visit clerkship, also available in numerous subspecialties. If you are a UIM student, you should consider applying for our VCP program. Importantly, we value your education and your time with us. While on rotation, you will be fully integrated into clinical services in the office, OR, on rounds and for consultations on the floor/ED/training room/TB. In the spring to summer months, there will also be student specific Friday didactics including "presentation Friday" where you will educate us with a talk and be provided formative feedback as well as the ever popular and mind-bending "white board" sessions. There will also be integration of additional topics by attendings that may include the gait cycle, basic sports/hand/spine and others. Because we value modern educational principles, our rotations are working toward competency-based objectives within the context of EPAs (Entrustable Professional Activities).

Matching and giving back

So you've decided Ortho is for you? Meet with faculty; a few of us or more. Make sure you talk to "Suite 100" (JMEC) to be linked to an advisor; beyond that, make sure you obtain a few different expert opinions regarding your application. The entire orthopaedic faculty is here for students, especially your Medical Student Education Team. If something doesn't seem right (before, during or after your applications are in), discuss with your advisors. As seniors, an important part of your medical school experience is to give back to your juniors; so please be available to them, to LLOS and figure out ways to make life better for future students.

Beyond Penn

Believe it or not, there is life beyond Penn; and for some, it might even be better (gasp) than what you are experiencing currently. Build relationships now with your peers; give back to the students of the future and stay in touch with your faculty mentors; they could be your advocates and colleagues of the future.

Wishing you the best of educations (and opening our emails and offices).

Your Medical Student Education Team 

Joseph Bernstein headshotJoe Bernstein

List of orthopaedic surgeons to shadow

Name Specialty Office Email
Joseph Bernstein, MD Sports VAMC
Derek Donegan, MD Trauma PMUC
John D. Kelly, IV, MD Sports Weightman
Miltiadis Zgonis, MD Sports Weightman
Neil Sheth, MD Joints PAH
David Steinberg, MD Hand PMUC
Christopher Travers, MD Joints PAH
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