8 Best Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Programs – 2023

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Are you an advanced practice registered nurse who is considering specializing in a subspecialty? Have you ever worked in an emergency department or cared for patients with injuries and wanted to be able to do more for them? If this sounds like you, orthopedics could be a great area for you to study! In this article, I want to share information with you about orthopedic nurse practitioner programs. I will give you a list of popular orthopedic nurse practitioner programs for 2023 and provide you with information about each of them. If you have

Top 5 Benefits of Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Programs

There are many benefits to choosing a specialty certification, like orthopedics. Below is a list of the top five benefits of orthopedic nurse practitioner programs.

1. Gain knowledge and experience that add to your marketability:

When you enroll in a certificate program or degree in a subspecialty, such as orthopedics, you are giving yourself the opportunity to learn from practitioners with years of experience. Their knowledge and expertise can help cultivate a deeper understanding of orthopedics and direct you to improve your clinical skills. Healthcare employers want to employ well-trained professionals who have a clear understanding of patient care objectives and have participated in clinical training that has prepared them for independent work. When you combine the knowledge and experience you gain from these programs, you increase your marketability.

2. Improve your earning potential:

Any time a nurse chooses to earn a new certification or gains new experiences in a specific field, the opportunity to earn a higher income is possible. Orthopedic nurse practitioners have a very specialized skillset and employers do not mind paying for to have them as part of their teams.

3. The opportunity for personal growth:

Patients of all ages and from all backgrounds experience orthopedic injuries or bone-related health issues. Part of being a good orthopedic NP means you develop ways of communicating and relating with this diversity of clients, which gives you the chance to grow personally and professionally.

4. Advance your career:

Orthopedic nurse practitioner programs offer subspecialty certification, which means it is accomplished as an addition to a graduate degree in nursing with a specialization in one of the core population foci. Although nurse practitioners can work in orthopedics without an orthopedic certification, choosing to pursue this subspecialty can make your resume or application stand out when applying for positions that require this specific skill set.

5. More job security:

Earning specialty or subspecialty certifications is one way to help promote job security. Orthopedic specialization is certainly no exception to that. There are over seven million people in the United States who have an orthopedic implant. Over thirty million children and teens participate in organized sports activities. Of those, approximately three and a half million orthopedic-related injuries occur yearly. The number of aging adults who experience bone loss or bone-related injuries is also significantly higher than middle-aged adults and children. The combination of all these factors indicates there is increased job security when nurse practitioners enroll in orthopedic nurse practitioner programs and become experienced in providing orthopedic care.

How Long Are Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Programs?

Colleges and universities may offer orthopedic nurse practitioner fellowship programs, residency programs, or post-graduate certificate programs. Each program may take a different amount of time to complete. For example, certificate programs are often shorter than residencies or fellowships, typically twelve months or less. Fellowships and residencies, on the other hand, are longer and last at least one year.

The Advanced Practice Provider Orthopedic Fellowship at

Ohio State University College of Medicine

is a twelve-month post-graduate program. The program caters to early-career nurse practitioners or those who are new to orthopedic medicine.


Medical College of Wisconsin

also offers a twelve-month APP fellowship. Participants in the fellowship work with over thirty-five staff nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and orthopedic residents and over forty board-certified orthopedic attending physicians. Fellowship benefits include malpractice insurance coverage, Medical College of Wisconsin APP health and dental insurance, paid vacation, BCLS certification, $1,000 for CME, and a salary of $60,000.

How Much Do Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?

Orthopedic nurse practitioner programs vary in cost, depending on the type of program. Post-Master's Certificate Programs range from $5,000 to just over $10,000. Orthopedic nurse practitioner Residency and Fellowship Programs are usually tuition-free programs. Choosing between a program with tuition and fee charges and one that does not is a matter of personal choice. While certificate programs require students to pay tuition and fees, they can be completed in a shorter amount of time and have less strenuous schedules. Residency and fellowship participants are usually offered a salary and other benefits but are often required to commit fifty hours or more each week to the program.

The Orthopedic Surgery Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Fellowship at

Carilion Clinic

and the Advanced Practice Provider Fellowship Program in Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, like other orthopedic nurse practitioner fellowship programs, are tuition-free. Participants in these programs are considered employees of the program/facility and are offered the same benefits as regular full-time employees. Benefits of fellowships and residency programs typically include competitive salary, medical/dental/vision/life insurance, paid vacation and sick leave, and an allowance for CME. Each program determines the benefits offered to fellows; therefore, applicants should verify potential earnings and benefits before accepting a fellowship position.

Duke University School of Nursing

and UMass Lowell calculate tuition using a per-credit rate. Duke University's tuition is $1,838 per credit. The eight-credit-hour course costs $14,704. The Post-Master's Certificate in Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Nursing at UMass Lowell requires completing twelve credit hours at the cost of $575 per credit hour, making tuition and fees for the certificate approximately $6,900.

What Is the Curriculum Like in an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Program?

Curriculum plans for orthopedic nurse practitioner programs are focused on building upon the knowledge acquired in NP school. Each program determines what coursework and clinical rotations are required for completion. Certificate programs may involve eight or more credit hours of coursework and clinicals. Fellowships and residencies include didactic work but mainly comprise clinical rotations in several orthopedic settings for a broad experience.


Duke University School of Nursing

, current MSN students can choose to add the orthopedic nurse practitioner program as a specialty to their academic plan. Nurse practitioners with a Master of Science in Nursing or higher from a regionally accredited school of nursing can apply for admission to the Specialty Certificate program. The orthopedic NP specialty/certificate curriculum requires completion of eight credit hours as follows.

◦ Advanced Practice Nursing: Musculoskeletal Specialty I (3 credit hours)
◦ Advanced Practice Nursing: Musculoskeletal Specialty II (2 credit hours)
◦ Advanced Practice Nursing: Musculoskeletal Specialty Synthesis involves one hundred sixty-eight clinical hours (3 credit hours).

UMass Lowell

offers a post-master's certificate in orthopedic and rehabilitation nursing. The course is twelve credit hours and includes on-campus didactic, online teaching, laboratory, and clinical learning. The following coursework is required for participants to earn the certificate.

◦ Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Nursing (3 credit hours)
◦ Advanced Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Nursing (3 credit hours)
◦ Advanced Musculoskeletal Conditions Practicum I and II (3 credit hours each)

The Advanced Practice Provider Fellowship Program in Orthopedics

University of Rochester Medical Center

is twenty-five percent didactic and seventy-five percent clinical. The program includes core orthopedic courses with rotations in several areas, including upper and lower extremity, spine, pediatrics, adult reconstruction, trauma, sports injury, metabolic bone/oncology, and urgent care.

What Are the Admission Requirements?

Most orthopedic nurse practitioner programs limit admission to nurse practitioners with a minimum MSN degree. Some programs, however, allow current MSN students to take coursework that meets the orthopedic NP curriculum requirements while enrolled in the MSN program. An admission advisor at the school you are considering attending can give you more detailed information on what you need to do to qualify for admission to their program.

The Post-Master's Certificate in Musculoskeletal Health/Orthopedics & Sports Medicine program at the

University of Saint Joseph

is open to nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The program is one of only two certificate-issuing orthopedic nurse practitioner programs in the United States. Applicants must submit a program essay or letter of intent, resume, planned program of study, current RN license, proof of immunization, and official transcripts.

University of Rochester Medical Center

offers nurse practitioners and physician assistants the opportunity to apply for admission to its one-year Advanced Practice Provider Fellowship Program in Orthopedics. Accepted fellows receive full-time employment benefits, including competitive fellowship salary, medical, dental, and life insurance, disability insurance coverage, five weeks of paid vacation, and DEA coverage. Applicants should be new graduate or early-career NPs or PAs who have a license to practice or are license-eligible in New York State who express a deep interest in orthopedic surgery. Prospective fellows should submit a complete application package, including a resume with a cover letter and two letters of recommendation, one from a clinical educator or preceptor and the other from a program director must be submitted to the APP Fellowship's Clinical Coordinator.


(The following Certificates, Fellowships, and Residency Training Programs are ideal for individuals who aspire to become an Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner.)

1. Duke University School of Nursing - Durham, NC

Program Type:


2. UMass Lowell - Lowell, MA

Program Type:

Post-Master's Certificate

3. Ohio State University College of Medicine - Columbus, OH

Program Type:

Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Orthopedic Fellowship

4. Medical College of Wisconsin - Wauwatosa, WI

Program Type:

NP and PA Orthopaedic Fellowship

5. University of New Mexico - Albuquerque, NM

Program Type:

Advanced Practice Provider Fellowship

6. University of Saint Joseph - West Hartford, CT

Program Type:

Certificate in Musculoskeletal Health/Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

7. University of Rochester Medical Center - Rochester, NY

Program Type:


8. Carilion Clinic - Roanoke, VA

Program Type: Orthopaedic Surgery NP & PA Fellowship

What Kinds of Career Opportunities Exist for Orthopedic Nurse Practitioners?

The career opportunities that are available to orthopedic nurse practitioners are quite versatile. A nurse practitioner’s preference of patient population or work setting can determine where they may work. A few examples of career opportunities for orthopedic NPs and what each may entail include the following.

• Orthopedic Clinic:

Assess clients with bone-related disease or injuries and develop a care plan to promote healing and optimal functioning, prescribe medications as needed, order lab tests and imaging tests such as x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, and interpret the findings to help evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment plan and decide if changes to the plan of care are warranted.

• Emergency Departments:

Assess clients who have experienced acute trauma or injury related to the musculoskeletal system, help stabilize patients who require immediate care, prescribe and/or administer treatment for acute or emergency orthopedic-related illness or injury, make surgery referrals for clients who require surgical intervention for musculoskeletal emergencies, and refer stabilized clients for orthopedic follow-up.

• Pediatric Orthopedic Services:

May include emergency or routine pediatric care as needed for bone-related issues, which may include abnormal bone growth, sports injuries, broken bones, or monitoring for deficiencies in vitamins and minerals that may lead to orthopedic problems.

• Academia:

Many nurse practitioners work as faculty at colleges or universities. While some work as full-time instructors, others may work part-time in the academic setting while having an active clinical role in patient care. Those who have one or more specialty or subspecialty, such as orthopedic nurse practitioners, may choose to teach specific courses related to their specialization. However, because all nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses,

Earning Potential for Orthopedic Nurse Practitioners

After graduating from any one of the top orthopedic nurse practitioner programs, residencies, or fellowships, orthopedic NPs earn over $100,000 annually. According to the chart below, as indicated by PayScale.com, orthopedic nurse practitioners earn $48.09 per hour or $8,340 monthly. Other sources, such as Salary.com, report higher earnings averaging $114,200 yearly.

Per Hour$48.09
Per Month$8,340
Per Year$100,035
(Source: Payscale.Com)


Nothing says “dedication” like getting certified in a specialty like orthopedics. If you think becoming an orthopedic nurse practitioner may be something you would like to pursue, I encourage you to research your options like the popular orthopedic nurse practitioner programs for 2023 mentioned in this article. There is no time like the present to begin working toward accomplishing your dream!


How do I become certified as an orthopedic nurse practitioner?

The Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB) offers the ONP-C examination for nurse practitioners. Eligibility requirements include possessing a minimum MSN degree from an accredited APRN program and a minimum of 2,000 hours of work experience as an APRN within the previous three years. The examination fee is $345 for NAON/AANP/NOVA members and $460 for non-members. The certification is valid for five years, and ONP-Cs must practice at least one thousand hours during the five-year certification period to be eligible for renewal.

Why is it important to become a certified orthopedic nurse practitioner?

Nurse practitioners who are certified in a specialty have proven their ability to apply the things they have learned in school to patient care. It is an excellent way for nurse practitioners to gain recognition for achieving a high level of expertise and skill. Additionally, employers tend to favor certified orthopedic nurse practitioner applicants over non-certified applicants, which could increase your chances of getting the job you want.

What are the advantages of an orthopedic nurse practitioner fellowship or residency?

Fellowships and residencies are a great way for nurse practitioners to learn from specialists in their chosen field. They offer participants the chance to work with various patient populations, clinical settings, and types of care. Further, residencies and fellowships make the transition from student to practitioner easier.

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

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