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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery & Musculoskeletal Medicine

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine is unique in New Zealand, in that both the Academic and Service Departments combine the surgical and medical components of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries into one department.

This amalgamation is reflected in the fulltime academic staff comprising of  a Professor and Head of Department, Emeritus Professor and Senior Lecturer, several clinical senior lecturers, a primary care musculoskeletal specialist, and a clinical psychologist specialising in chronic musculoskeletal pain.   Thus it is possible to organise and deliver fully comprehensive teaching of musculoskeletal disorders to Undergraduate and Postgraduate students from the one Department.

Undergraduate Teaching Programme

Since  2011 the musculoskeletal attachment  has been  integrated with Neurosurgery/Neurology.

Components consists of:

  • Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Musculoskeletal Medicine
  • Rheumatology
  • Neurology/Neurosurgery
  • Spinal Injuries

Teaching is  carried out by a small core of full time academic staff assisted by a large number of clinical senior lecturers in the appropriate specialities.

The eight  week, clinically-orientated, problem solving, and largely student-driven, programme allows plenty of elective time for students to achieve their goals.

The major strengths are

  • the abundance and variety of clinical material available to students 
  •  largely informal tutoring
  • teaching by subspecialists
  • introduction to the dynamics of working in a multidisciplinary team.

In the trainee intern year the fifth year experiences are consolidated by attachment to specific clinical teams which allows a much more 'hands on' approach and added responsibility.

Postgraduate Studies in Musculoskeletal Medicine

For 22 years the department has been responsible for organising and delivering the PG Diploma in Musculoskeletal Medicine which is aimed mainly for primary care doctors.

The programme is based around the biopsychosocial model and offers nine papers taught by teleconference and two on-campus papers. 8 papers are required to complete the Diploma. The Diploma is taught both in New Zealand and Australia.

In 1997 a Postgraduate Certificate in Musculoskeletal Medicine, which is more clinically orientated and takes a shorter time to complete, was introduced.

Certificate/Diploma/Masters in Health Sciences endorsed in either Musculoskeletal Management, or Pain and Pain Management.

In addition, non-medical health professionals such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, occupational therapists, nurses etc may be interested in the above suite of qualifications.

Musculoskeletal Management & Pain and Pain Management


The Canterbury Orthopaedic and Bone Research Association (COBRA) actively supports research within the Department.  A full time research scientist heads the group, and is supported by post doctoral and Ph.D students in basic research into cartilage regeneration and tissue engineering.  Several clinical projects are also established looking into the long term results of joint arthroplasty.   Collaboration with the University of Canterbury (Engineering Department) has resulted in several projects investigating the function of tetraplegic patients.