Symposium: Women and Underrepresented Minorities in Orthopaedics 8 articles
Although the number of women in surgical specialties has increased dramatically over the past two decades, little research exists regarding how a surgeon’s gender impacts job selection and practice models. Because the number of women specializing in pediatric orthopaedics continues to increase, it is important to understand how one’s gender affects practice choices and how this may affect the future workforce.
Orthopaedic surgery lags behind other surgical specialties in terms of gender diversity. The percentage of women entering orthopaedic residency persistently remains at 14% despite near equal ratios of women to men in medical school classes. This trend has been attributed to negative perceptions among women medical students of workplace culture and lifestyle in orthopaedics as well as lack of exposure, particularly during medical school when most women decide to enter the field. Since 2012, The Perry Initiative, a nonprofit organization that is focused on recruiting and retaining women in orthopaedics, had conducted extracurricular outreach programs for first- and second-year female medical students to provide exposure and mentoring opportunities specific to orthopaedics. This program, called the Medical Student Outreach Program (MSOP), is ongoing at medical centers nationwide and has reached over 300 medical students in its first 3 program years (2012–2014).
Can a Strategic Pipeline Initiative Increase the Number of Women and Underrepresented Minorities in Orthopaedic Surgery?
Women and minorities remain underrepresented in orthopaedic surgery. In an attempt to increase the diversity of those entering the physician workforce, Nth Dimensions implemented a targeted pipeline curriculum that includes the Orthopaedic Summer Internship Program. The program exposes medical students to the specialty of orthopaedic surgery and equips students to be competitive applicants to orthopaedic surgery residency programs. The effect of this program on women and underrepresented minority applicants to orthopaedic residencies is highlighted in this article.
Orthopaedic surgery now has the lowest percentage of women in residency programs of any surgical specialty. Understanding factors, particularly those related to the medical school experience, that contribute to the specialty’s inability to draw from the best women students is crucial to improving diversity in the profession.
Orthopaedic fellowship training is a common step before becoming a practicing orthopaedic surgeon. In the past, fellowship decisions in orthopaedics were made early in the residency and without a formal match. The process was disorganized, often not fair to the applicants or fellowship programs. More recently, there has been an organized match process for nine different disciplines in orthopaedics. Although the numbers of women applicants into orthopaedic residency has been reported and is the target of efforts to continue to improve gender diversity in orthopaedics, the numbers regarding women in orthopaedic fellowships have not been known. Other details including if there is a difference in match rate between male and female fellowship applicants and what discipline they choose to pursue across orthopaedic surgery has not been reported.
The process of choosing medical specialty and residency programs is multifaceted. Today’s generation of medical students may have an increased interest in work-life balance and time with their families. In considering this factor, medical students may be influenced by policy regarding maternity, paternity, and adoption leave during residency and fellowship training. Current policy among orthopaedic programs regarding maternity, paternity, and adoption leave is not well described. To understand the influence these policies may have on the choices that medical students make in choosing their specialty, the policies must first be better understood.
Although women account for approximately half of the medical students in the United States, they represent only 13% of orthopaedic surgery residents and 4% of members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Furthermore, a smaller relative percentage of women pursue careers in orthopaedic surgery than in any other subspecialty. Formal investigations regarding the gender discrepancy in choice of orthopaedic surgery are lacking.