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Choosing a doctor, especially one who may be performing complex procedures or surgery on you or a loved one, can be a daunting task. Patients often pour over reviews of potential doctors and information about their qualifications. Without being the medical field, taking in all this information and new terminology can be overwhelming.

Some orthopedists have a designation around fellowship training. So what does that mean?

Every orthopedic surgeon completes five years of training, but those who are “fellowship trained” have opted for an additional focus.

“A fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon elects to spend an extra year after their required five years of general orthopedic surgery training, focusing on a specific ‘specialty’ in orthopedics like sports medicine or total joints,” says Dr. W. Bryan Jennings, himself an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoCarolina Winston-Salem and King who is fellowship trained in sports medicine. “This allows the fellowship trained physician to become an ‘expert’ in their chosen specialty field.”

What are physicians learning in this additional time spent training for a specialty?

Dr. Brian A. Krenzel of OrthoCarolina Hickory and Boone chose to focus on hip and knee surgery.

“That additional year gave me great experience and exposure to complex cases as well as better understanding of straightforward cases,” Dr. Krenzel said. “Fellowship training really differentiated my skill set and allowed me to develop expertise at the elements of hip and knee replacement surgery. Orthopedics is constantly changing. By focusing on a small area of orthopedics, I am able to best respond to the new technologies and techniques in joint replacement surgery.”

Many patients then wonder – is it most beneficial to work with a fellowship trained doctor?

It really depends on the patient and their preferences says Dr. Brian P. Scannell, a pediatric fellowship trained orthopedist practicing at OrthoCarolina’s Pediatric Orthopedic Center, Ballantyne, Concord and University offices.

“There are lots of fantastic surgeons that don’t do fellowships. They are capable of doing many different surgeries,” Dr. Scannell said. “All patients don’t necessarily need a fellowship trained surgeon. However, for some orthopedic problems, having a fellowship trained surgeon typically means that they have additional training or expertise in a specific sub-specialty and this may be beneficial for patients.”

What's next?

KEEP READING - Dr. Krenzel shares more about what he learned during his hip and knee fellowship and the kinds of cases it has contributed to over his career.

MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT - Ready to see an OrthoCarolina physician? Take a look at all our convenient locations. 

CAREERS WITH ORTHOCAROLINA - Want to join the talented OC team in making lives better each day? Learn more about careers with OC.

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