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from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Diseases & Conditions



Staying Healthy

What is FAAOS?

When looking for an orthopaedic surgeon, every patient wants to feel confident that they will be receiving the best possible treatment from a highly qualified practitioner. With so many sources of information available on the internet, however, finding the right doctor can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you’re already dealing with arthritis, a broken bone, a torn ligament, or another musculoskeletal condition.

As the trusted leaders in advancing musculoskeletal health, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is committed to taking the pain out of this process. By providing a comprehensive credentialing program for its members, AAOS makes it easier for patients to identify highly qualified providers of musculoskeletal care. Only those orthopaedic surgeons who successfully meet AAOS’ rigorous professional and ethical standards earn the right to use the letters “FAAOS” (Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) after their names. Looking for the FAAOS designation is one way to ensure that you choose a reputable and skilled orthopaedic surgeon.

Why the FAAOS Designation Matters

The FAAOS designation is important because it distinguishes your orthopaedic surgeon as the leader of the musculoskeletal health team. It shows that they have an advanced level of skill, training, experience, and professionalism, and it represents a commitment to quality and ongoing learning beyond that of other healthcare professionals. Ultimately, it indicates advanced knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating your musculoskeletal condition.

FAAOS logo

To be sure your orthopaedic surgeon is a qualified AAOS Fellow, look for the FAAOS letters after their name.

Who Can Use the FAAOS Designation

The designation can be used only by AAOS members who are qualified. This includes Active Fellows who have been certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS), American Osteopathic Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (AOBOS), or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).

Other requirements include:

  • Being in exclusive practice of orthopaedic surgery in the United States for at least 36 months (not including fellowship training) immediately prior to induction
  • Maintaining a full, unrestricted, and unlimited license to practice medicine, or full-time service in the federal government
  • Complying with the AAOS Standards of Professionalism
  • Completing an Active Fellow Membership Application
  • Receiving application approval from the AAOS Membership Committee and Board of Directors

Learn more: An orthopaedic surgeon explains why AAOS Fellows should Wear Your Letters With Pride

How Do I Know if My Doctor Has the FAAOS Designation? 

Many orthopaedic surgeons use the FAAOS letters after their name (e.g., John Doe, MD, FAAOS).  Some also include the FAAOS logo in their email signature, or on their practice website, social media accounts, business cards, marketing materials, and/or office letterhead.  If you’re not sure whether your doctor has the FAAOS designation, feel free to ask them. You can also search for your doctor by name in the AAOS “Find an Orthopaedist” directory to see if they have earned the FAAOS designation.

Learn more about the specialty of orthopaedic surgery: All About Orthopaedics

Last Reviewed

August 2021

Contributed and/or Updated by

Thomas Ward Throckmorton, MD, FAAOS

AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.