Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is orthopaedic surgery?

A: Orthopaedic surgery or orthopaedics (also spelled orthopedics) is a medical specialty involving conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. Orthopaedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal, trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumours, and congenital disorders.

Q: What are orthopaedic subspecialties?

A: Many orthopaedic surgeons in Canada further subspecialize in one or more of the following areas: General orthopaedics, sports medicine, paediatrics, trauma, total joint reconstruction (arthroplasty), spine, oncology, foot and ankle, shoulder and elbow, or hand. Many of these specialty areas are not exclusive to orthopaedic surgery. For example, hand surgery is practiced by some plastic surgeons and spine surgery is practiced by many neurosurgeons. Foot and ankle surgery is practiced by some podiatrists, and some family doctors include sports medicine in their practice (though their scope of practice is typically non-operative).

Q: What is the COA and how was it established? 

A: The COA is a professional organization that seeks to further the field of orthopaedic care in Canada, representing the interests of members and the public. The COA was inaugurated in 1945 by Drs. J. Edouard Samson, Andrew Pritchard MacKinnon and Robert I. Harris. The first COA meeting took place on June 12-13 in Montreal, and the first COA President was Dr. J. Appleton Nutter. Visit ‘About the COA’ page for more information.

Q: How are the COA President and committee members selected?

A: Each year in the fall, the COA Nominating Committee, chaired by the COA Past-president and made up of representatives from each region, issues an open call for presidential and committee nominations to all Active COA members. The Committee members accept the nominations and vote. The second president-elect as well as all new committee positions are finalized by the Board of Directors, and approved by the membership at the COA Business Meeting.

Q: How do orthopaedic surgeons train and how do they maintain competency?

A: In Canada, orthopaedic surgeons typically complete four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, and five years of orthopaedic residency training in one of the 17 Canadian orthopaedic training programs. After successful completion of residency, an orthopaedic surgeon is eligible to sit the certification exams by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Many orthopaedic surgeons choose to do further training in the form of subspecialized fellowships (typically for one year) or research.

To maintain certification as a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, surgeons must accumulate prescribed numbers of continuing medical education credits. Click here for more information.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a COA member? Who can become a member?
A: There are numerous benefits to becoming a member of the COA, including reduced access to the Annual Meeting, access to multiple journals and internal publications, publication opportunities, networking, leadership opportunities, inclusion in the national advocacy conversation, and so much more. Click here for a full list of membership benefits.

Membership is available to orthopaedic surgeons, residents and orthopaedic researchers. Click here for more details about membership categories or contact info@canorth.org.

Q: Do I have to pay full price for membership dues if I go on parental leave or if I retire from full-time practice?
A: No. Membership fees can be suspended during a maternity leave, and once you have retired from active practice. Contact info@canorth.org for more details.

Q: Do I have to pay for COA membership if I am a resident?

A: No. COA membership is free for Associate members (residents and fellows). To apply for Associate membership, you will need to complete a simple membership application form. Click here for details. 

Q: How do I pay my annual membership dues?

A: Login to your COA Membership Portal and click on ‘Member Dues’ to pay your annual membership dues. You can also use pay your membership dues to various subspecialty societies at the same time.

Q: I am having trouble logging into my COA account. What should I do?
A: If you are unable to login to the COA Membership Portal, or you have forgotten your password, try the Retrieve/Reset Password function. If you’re still unable to login, please contact info@canorth.org.

Q: Where do the Annual Meetings take place?

A: Annual Meetings take place across Canada in a different city each year, typically in early- to mid-June. For information on upcoming meeting venues, please click here.

Q: How do I submit my abstract to the Annual Meeting?
A: The call for abstracts is typically open from early September until mid-October. COA members will be reminded of abstract deadlines via the Dispatch and Bulletin. To submit an abstract, members must login to their existing COA member account. Non-members will need to create an account. For specific abstract submission guidelines and timelines, please visit the Annual Meeting page.   

Q: Do I need to register for the Annual Meeting if I am presenting or moderating at the meeting and what are the costs?

A: Yes. All meeting participants, including presenters and moderators, must be registered in order to attend the Annual Meeting.

Q: Why should I attend the  Annual Meeting?

A: There are numerous benefits to attending the Annual Meeting, including networking opportunities, collecting Royal College Section 1 & 3 CME credits, presentation and publication, and keeping up to date with the latest in orthopaedic education as well as practical tips and tricks.  For specific meeting-related questions, please contact meetings@canorth.org.