Haere mai, welcome

Ngā mihi for taking the time to consider a position in orthopaedics. Having experience in orthopaedics is essential for junior doctors wanting to take up a career in a number of different specialties including General Practice, Emergency Medicine, Geriatrics, etc. The Orthopaedic Service looks forward to providing junior doctors the opportunity to learn and gain experience in orthopaedics.

Why specialise in Orthopaedics?

In addition to providing essential experience to junior doctors to undertake a career in numerous areas of medicine, orthopaedics as a career option is one that you will find both stimulating and rewarding. The service is a particularly busy one with a constant flow of acute patients presenting for assessment and treatment. We also have a high demand for corrective elective assessment and surgery in patients of all ages.

Within Orthopaedics there is a growing level of subspecialisation and in Christchurch these sub speciality interests are well covered. Trauma constitutes the bulk of service delivery and as such provides some very interesting cases that challenge the skills of our surgeons to restore the patients. Other sub speciality groups include upper limb, hand, paediatrics, foot and ankle, spine and major joint.

Career prospects

The Canterbury Orthopaedic Department has a strong and deserved reputation for providing excellent training to support junior doctors wanting placement on the Australasian Orthopaedic Training Programme those qualifying to become an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Although most of the training is directed at the registrar level the Department does provide very good experience for both the first year House Officers and the more senior House Officers. The Orthopaedic service in the acute wards in conjunction with the Health Care of the Elderly service, provide very good experience and training in managing the acute patients of all ages. The Orthopaedic Outpatient Department manages an assessment and treatment service 7 days per week for minor acute orthopaedic cases. The positions here provide valuable experience directly managing acute patients (assessment and treatment) in a supportive environment.

Referrals are received from the community and through the Emergency Department. The Burwood Hospital service provides posts for senior House Officers managing the orthopaedic elective surgical cases plus a mix of ACC funded elective surgical cases, plus patients referred to the Burwood Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Unit. All these positions provide the interested doctor ample opportunity to learn and gain valuable experience with very good surgeon input and support. Three Fellow positions exist in upper limb, lower limb and trauma which are very sought after positions. The positions are available to suitable applicants from around the world and they are able to work in both the public and private sector.

Medical Kaimahi (staff) in Orthopaedics

The orthopaedic service employs Surgeons, Fellows, Registrars (on Australasian Training Scheme), non training scheme Registrars, Senior House Officers and House Officers (PGY 1 and 2). Also a constant part of the service are medical students, who again come from all parts of the world.

The positions available are as follows:

  • Surgeons (mostly part time employees): 18 posts
  • Fellows (full time but shared with the private sector): 3 posts
  • Trainee registrars: 6
  • Non Trainee Registrars: 7 (includes 3 relievers)
  • Christchurch Hospital Ward House Officers: 6
  • Christchurch Orthopaedic Outpatient HOs: 5
  • Burwood Hospital House Officers: Surgical Unit - 3, Rehab - 1
  • Relieving orthopaedic SHO/HOs: 4

The allocation of dedicated service relievers provides greater continuity and opportunity for the House Officer and to the patient and service.

All about our service

The Orthopaedic Service provides an assessment and treatment service to patients referred to them either acutely or as arranged. The acute service operates out of Christchurch Hospital where patients are admitted through the Emergency Department and Orthopaedic Outpatient Department. Patients requiring surgery will receive this at Christchurch Hospital with the occasional patient being transferred to Burwood Hospital for surgery. Access to a full range of diagnostic and clinical support services exists at Christchurch Hospital. Burwood Hospital provides most of the orthopaedic service for elective patients, both assessment and surgery. Paediatric patients are the exception as are complex elective patients who require or are at risk of requiring ICU back up. The patients over the age of 60 are managed jointly by the orthopaedic surgeons and the Health Care of the elderly physicians.

For the acute service each day begins with a review of all patients waiting for an operation. Ward rounds are completed following this meeting. Follow up fracture clinics for acute patients following discharge are held daily Monday to Friday.

The service is required to manage a minimum of 1100 hip or knee replacement operations annually with approximately 500 other orthopaedic operations. The acute service accounts for approximately 65 to 70% of the total admissions to the service. The service sees approximately 45,000 outpatient patients (a mixture of first and follow up appointments) annually. As a tertiary provider referrals are received from Canterbury as well as other parts of New Zealand (both South Island and the North Island.)

Training in our service

The Orthopaedic Service has a full academic programme. The Registrars with the Fellows have a weekly journal club and trauma meeting. Surgeons are fully involved in these dedicated sessions. Every Wednesday morning there is a combined surgeon, Registrar and House officer continuing medical education sessions that runs for 90 minutes. The daily trauma meeting where patients waiting for an operation are reviewed individually, is also an effective teaching session. The House Officers have a weekly teaching session which is delivered by the Registrars. Changes are being made to the acute surgeons’ daily programme to enable the surgeon to provide a more educational ward round each day.

The junior medical staff are well supported to attend the necessary training courses.


The Orthopaedic Service is well recognised for undertaking research. The National Joint Register is managed by the surgeons and a close association exists with the University of Otago Medical School. Undertaking research is essential for doctors seeking to get on the training scheme. This remains a priority right through the Trainees training years. The service and surgeons fully support these endeavours.

SMO / Kaimahi (staff) support

The Surgeons are very supportive of their junior medical staff, both in hours and out of hours. In response to this support the orthopaedic Registrars work hard to ensure service coverage is maintained.

Advantages to come here

The training record of orthopaedic registrar teaching and support is something the service is proud of. The service workload covers a wide variety cases in a sufficient case volume to allow the junior medical staff to gain very good experience. This applies to all medical staff at different stages of experience and training. The surgeons are committed to maintaining this record and support those staff that want to learn.


Any enquires can be directed to the Clinical Director Mr John McKie, the Registrar Education Supervisor Mr Andrew Vincent and House Officer Educational Director Mr Alex Malone or the Service Manager David Brydon. We are sure that any staff member working in the service or has worked in service would be able to provide you with a good account of the service and their experience.

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