Exposing Medical Students to Orthopedic Surgery Subspecialties

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery welcomes visiting senior medical students, though space is limited. We follow recommendations from the Coalition for Physician Accountability’s Work Group on Medical Students in the Class of 2022.

VSLO application season starts March 28, 2022.

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine seniors get first preference for our clerkships. We accept visiting fourth-year medical students for a one month rotation during the months of July, August, September, October and November. 

We give preference to students at Nashville’s Meharry Medical College.

Program Overview

Positions: Varies
Duration: 1 month
Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt Health Belle Meade, Vanderbilt Orthopaedics Franklin

Our orthopedic surgery clerkships give you hands-on experience in all aspects of orthopedic surgery, helping you integrate medical and surgical knowledge by caring for patients with musculoskeletal conditions, including oncology and pediatrics, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. As part of our program, you will work as part of our multidisciplinary team, focusing on initial evaluation, preoperative and postoperative management and intraoperative surgical procedures. 

Your course will include:

  • Call: During your clerkship, you will share in the call experience, working independently to provide patients with casting, evaluations and splinting. 
  • Didactic sessions: Through one-hour discussions each morning before surgical cases or clinic, you will participate in didactic sessions that will help you integrate medical and surgical knowledge in the care of patients.

All visiting students follow Vanderbilt's Fourth Year Class Calendar. And, when you arrive, you must complete a Bloodborne Pathogen Training Session. 

Residency Program Candidacy 

As a visiting medical student, we consider you a candidate for our Orthopaedic Surgery Residency program. We complete formal residency program interviews during your month-long visiting rotation. 

Subspecialty Clerkships 

Our orthopedic surgery clerkships provide exposure to one of eight subspecialties.

Adult Hand

During this rotation, you will learn to provide initial evaluation, pre-operative and post-operative management for adult hand surgery patients. Caring for patients with congenital hand deformities and musculoskeletal hand injuries, you will gain experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings. 

Adult Reconstructive Surgery

Working alongside our joint replacement experts, you will improve your surgical knowledge in caring for orthopaedic patients.

Adult Spine

Through exposure to caring for patients with spine related deformities and injuries in the hospital and at outpatient clinics, we provide an introduction to outpatient assessment and inpatient management of people with a wide variety of spinal disorders. 

You will learn to properly assess patients with:

  • Low back pain 
  • Spinal injuries with neurological involvement

You will also participate in the emergent, preoperative, surgical, postoperative hospital, and outpatient diagnostic and therapeutic care of patients.  

Adult Trauma

Working alongside the Chief Resident, you will help care for orthopedic trauma victims and patients with musculoskeletal injuries. Through this experience, you will learn more about emergent, preoperative, surgical, postoperative hospital and outpatient diagnostic and therapeutic patient care.

Foot & Ankle 

With the guidance of our Chief Resident, you will gain an in-depth understanding of the evaluation and management of:

  • Arthritis
  • Common deformities
  • Neuropathy 
  • Orthotic management
  • Pedorthic management
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Tendonopathies


During your clerkship, you can expect to gain hands-on exposure to musculoskeletal oncology, learning the medical, pathological, radiological and surgical aspects of patient care. 

Pediatric Orthopaedics 

Working in both inpatient and outpatient settings, you will assess and manage pediatric orthopedic surgical patients. With this exposure to patient care, you will learn decision making protocols, how to evaluate the child, pertinent history taking and treatment options.

Sports Medicine 

During this rotation, you will work in our Sports Medicine Center and the operating room, alongside our Attending and our Chief Resident, caring for patients with athletic injuries and all injuries of the knee and shoulder. 

Application Process and Requirements

You must meet certain requirements to apply for an orthopedic surgery clerkship, including:

  • Being in good standing at an accredited U.S. allopathic medical school
  • Obtaining approval from your Dean
  • Showing proof of adequate health insurance and professional liability insurance coverage  

At Vanderbilt, we use the VSAS (Visiting Student Application Service). When you submit your application, please:

  • Apply to Surg-General Ortho and we will assign your rotation schedule when you arrive
  • Include a letter of recommendation (ideally from an orthopaedic surgeon) 
  • Indicate your first, second, and third choices of orthopedic subspecialties. If no preference is listed and you are confirmed as a visiting medical student, you will be placed on any available service.

Please apply at least 8 weeks in advance.

Helpful information about our clerkship program:

  • A $150.00 registration fee is required to confirm your spot as a visiting medical student.
  • Availability for visiting students will open after Vanderbilt students are scheduled in May. 
  • Students are notified by email when they are accepted for a visiting student rotation.
  • Visiting student elective applications are considered in order of receipt. 

For more information about our clerkship program, contact Madeline Kallock, interim Program Manager at

  • Vanderbilt Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
    URM Stipend Program

    The Vanderbilt Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is committed to professional development and recruitment of individuals under-represented in medicine as well as providing equal opportunity for applicants of all backgrounds. Specifically, our goal is to offer a program that supports the needs and growth of students from groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in orthopaedic surgery and who have the capacity to care for populations similar to our patients and community.

    To facilitate participation in this program eligible participants will be granted up to $1000 in reimbursement to defray travel, housing and living expenses during a sub-internship in orthopaedic surgery in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Vanderbilt. The program is available for select senior medical students from a group that is under-represented in medicine as defined by the AAMC based on our institutional mission driven strategies which encompass the community we serve.

    As part of the program students will receive career advice including preparation for academic medicine, an interview for orthopaedic surgery residency program, and a letter of evaluation. Finally, the visiting scholar will have a chance to network with residents, faculty, students and have access to all lectures, grand rounds, seminars, and skills labs. 

    Eligibility includes 3rd year medical students who attend US accredited medical schools or osteopathic schools and are from under-represented groups specifically Black/ African American, Hispanic/Latino/x, Native American/Alaska native, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Puerto Rican.  Applications will not be accepted from non-US medical schools or from groups not underrepresented in medicine.

    The application process opens April 1, 2022 and closes April 13, 2022 at 5 PM CST for 3rd year medical students.

    There is no application fee.

    Students must adhere to the Vanderbilt block dates and must have completed their required core clerkships before starting the program rotation.

    Accepted students may receive funding up to $1,000 as a stipend to defray living costs.

    Students must apply and be accepted through the VSLO program and meet all requirements for the Vanderbilt Orthopaedic Surgery rotation found on the AAMC/VSLO website.