Orthopaedic Surgery Residency

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The orthopaedic surgery residency at Spectrum Health, in partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, focuses on the purposeful development of surgical skills. Residents have access to a high volume of cases across all specialties, where they first assist from intern year and progress with autonomy in the operating room based on their experience. The residency fosters a spirit of inquiry to provide the skills and habits required to critically evaluate the orthopaedic literature and participate in research. Development of strong clinical and surgical skills is coupled with an emphasis on providing compassionate patient care and mentorship. 

Residents receive training in hospital, clinic, outpatient and office settings. Our teaching staff includes fellowship-trained surgeons in all specialties including trauma, hand, foot and ankle, total joint arthroplasty, spine, shoulder, sports, pediatric orthopaedic surgery and orthopaedic oncology.

From the Program Director

As program director for the Spectrum Health/Michigan State University Orthopaedic Surgery Residency, I want to introduce you to our program. Our residency program is one of the oldest in the nation with its inception dating back to 1933. We currently train five residents per year and have over 50 dedicated faculty with specialty training in all areas of orthopaedics covering a large clinical volume of patients as a regional referral center. Our residents enjoy training at state of the art facilities covering four major hospitals, appreciate the partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and live in a smaller, vibrant Midwest city close to the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. 

Residents enjoy a healthy quality of life outside of work and I recognize the importance of work-life balance to avoid burnout, which is a serious risk of our profession. Many residents have families and the comradery and social support within the program is an important part of our team chemistry. Your fellow residents will become some of your best friends and lifelong colleagues. Our residents and faculty are the heart of the program and of which I am most proud.  

Our residency leadership strives to ensure every resident purposefully develops the knowledge base and more importantly surgical skills necessary for success. In addition to learning how to operate, an important emphasis is placed on why and when to operate, and how to incorporate evidenced-based medicine into practice.

If you train at Spectrum Health, I will expect much over your five years of residency and no doubt you will be challenged and will work hard. In return, you will have my absolute commitment to your education and that commitment does not end after completion of residency. 

Karl C. Roberts, MD
Program Director 

We strive to train residents to become the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons in a way that advances our field and the reputation of our profession, maintains the core values of professionalism and integrity and positions our graduates to succeed as physicians, leaders and innovators.  It is expected that our residents achieve graduated autonomy commensurate with their program year such that they are independent and competent with core clinical skills upon graduation. We want our graduates to feel confident that they can go directly into clinical practice, yet be competitive for fellowships if they desire subspecialty training.  We aspire to graduate residents that we would be happy to recruit back to our community as partners and colleagues. We prioritize the development of surgical proficiency coupled with a strong clinical knowledge base such that our graduates can provide high-quality, value-based, patient-centered care upon graduation. Although most of our graduates pursue a clinical career, we aim to provide them the necessary skills and experience in research such that they could make the transition to an academic path as well.

Education is not a passive process. We strive to have residents work with our most accomplished faculty, many are alumni of this residency program.  We employ a mentorship model of education and there is an expectation that our residents to have a strong commitment to their training with focus, integrity, and professionalism.  The faculty are also expected to meet requirements as dedicated educators.The teaching staff includes fellowship-training surgeons in all specialties including trauma, hand, foot & ankle, total joint arthroplasty, spine, shoulder, sports, pediatric orthopaedic surgery and orthopaedic oncology.

Our program focuses on the purposeful development of surgical skills. Residents get early access to operative experiences and first-assist during the majority of residency training with progressive autonomy in the operating room. In addition to a high volume surgical experience, we have a simulation surgery program, including a state of the art arthroscopy simulator where residents can refine motor skills outside of the operating room. All residents meet their required case minimums for graduation well before the end of their training.

Residents receive training in hospital, clinic, outpatient and office settings. The program rotates at four Grand Rapids hospitals:
  • Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital -  Level I Trauma Center with 110,00 emergency department visits per year and approximately 100 orthopaedic beds  
  • Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital -  Level 2 Trauma Center with 40,00 emergency department visits per year , dedicated joint replacement center and approximately 100 orthopaedic beds
  • Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital -  a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center
  • Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital -  Level 2 Trauma Center with approximately 80 orthopaedic beds

Each rotation is tailored for the resident’s level of training.  The PGY1 rotations are offered as four-week blocks, while the PGY2-PGY5 rotations consist of five 10-week blocks. This allows the resident to get an in-depth approach to different subspecialties. The length of the rotations allows both residents and attendings to become comfortable with learning and teaching styles as well as give residents the opportunity to have increased surgical participation and autonomy.  Click here to view our core rotations by program year.

Our full didactic schedule includes: 
  • Grand Rounds - Wednesdays, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. - Lectures provided by attendings, residents or visiting professors
  • Resident Hour - Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. - Chief resident-guided reviews of trauma text and instructional course lectures - Weekly rotation-specific conferences (attending-led)
  • Anatomy Lab - Bi-monthly, Wednesdays 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. - Located in the Michigan State University-CHM lab - Hands-on cadaveric dissection, reviewing surgical approaches and osseous/neurovascular/muscular anatomy
  • Monthly Journal Clubs & Skills Labs
  • Annual Conference Series - John T. Hodgen Memorial Lecture - George T. Aitken Annual Alumni Conference - Bi-Annual Wellness Sessions 

Every year we invite nationally recognized guest speakers to complement our grand rounds didactic lectures.  These speakers have included nationally recognized physicians and non-clinical experts who are thought leaders and innovators.  We have an annual memorial lecture dedicated to Dr. John T. Hodgen, who established the roots of our program in 1933.  We have been fortunate to host distinguished speakers including Nobel laureates, a 4-Star General and NASA astronaut, the CEO of a major fortune 500 company and many others.  Click here to view the full list of our visiting professors and honorable guest speakers.

Our program has consistently scored among all programs in the top tenth percentile of the AAOS In-Training Exam for the past five years and our pass rate for the ABOS board certification during that time has been 100%.  Graduates of the program are expected to be competent in the care of primary orthopaedic problems, and technically proficient at surgery.  Historically, this residency has produced competitive candidates that have gone on to receive fellowship training in a variety of subspecialties.


The Scholarly Activity Support team is here to assist you with all your research needs.  They offer biostatistics consultation and poster preparation. Residents are expected to submit their work for presentation at the institutional Research Day and submit a manuscript for publication. Research accepted for presentation at local or national meetings is supported with travel and lodging through residency funds.
  • All applications must come through the Electronic Residency Application Service
  • USMLE Step 1: No cut-off, must pass on first attempt
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation is required
  • Deadline for all applications is November 1, 2020

For more information on our program, contact Becky Hoebeke, program coordinator.
All visiting medical student applications must be submitted through the Visiting Student Learning Opportunities program. For more information on visiting medical student opportunities, please visit our Visiting Learner page.
Spectrum Health provides a comprehensive and very competitive benefits package for our residents, staff and their families. In addition, our program provides educational monies to support your ongoing education. Download our salary and benefits document to learn more.

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