March 06, 2008 10:26 ET

"She Can Do It!"

AAOS Working to Increase the Number of Women in Orthopaedic Surgery

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 6, 2008) - Today more than 90 percent of orthopaedic surgeons are men. This is a startling statistic given these facts: The number of women orthopaedic patients continues to rise, and women now comprise more than 50 percent of medical school classes, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges.

In addition, women represent:

--  3 percent of board-certified orthopaedic surgeons
--  less than 10 percent of all orthopaedic residents nationwide

"It is very important to the public at large that more women become involved in the practice of orthopaedics," said Mary I. O'Connor, MD. Dr. O'Connor is an associate professor and department chair of orthopaedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

She noted, "If we work to increase diversity within the orthopaedic workforce, it stands to reason we will probably have more awareness and sensitivity to gender and racial difference across the board. I feel it will also help to decrease health-care disparities and improve overall health, which translates into better care for all our patients."

Increasing diversity has been an ongoing effort and a principle issue for the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (RJOS). Established in 1983, RJOS fosters support and serves as a network for women orthopaedic surgeons to share their common experiences. "Today one of our biggest challenges is just getting women medical students to understand that they can have a rich and rewarding career as an orthopaedic surgeon," Dr. O'Connor said. "I feel on some level young women are still given negative messages on surgical training, especially orthopaedic training. We are here to tell them that orthopaedics is a fabulous profession, and as orthopaedic surgeons they can really help patients improve their quality of life."

"She Can Do It! -- Increasing the Number of Women in Orthopaedic Surgery" will be presented at a media briefing to be held at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), at the Moscone Convention Center, South Mezzanine, on Thursday, Mar. 6, 2008, at 10:45 a.m., in Room 224.

Dr. O'Connor moderates a very distinguished panel that includes Lisa Canada, MD, who will discuss a book she co-wrote with Dr. O'Connor, entitled "The RJOS Guide for Women in Orthopaedic Surgery." Ann Van Heest, MD, will present the most up-to-date numbers of women in orthopaedic residency programs. Sharon Hame, MD, incoming president of the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society will share the Society's vision for the future.

Claudia Thomas, MD, the recipient of the 2008 AAOS Diversity Award and the first black female orthopaedic surgeon, along with 2008 Miss Black USA Ms. Kalilah Allen-Harris, who is also a medical student pursing a career in orthopaedic surgery, will round out the panel. Both women will discuss their personal and professional experiences in the field.

"I believe that the future of orthopaedics will directly depend on how we address the specific issue of women entering the orthopaedic profession, for us as surgeons and for our patients," Dr. O'Connor said. "We need to create a culture that welcomes and supports women as equal and valued partners."

Editor's Note: Full disclosure information for each AAOS media-briefing participant is available upon request. Please contact Catherine Dolf, (Cell) (847) 894-9112 or Lauren Pearson, (Cell) (224) 374-8610 for more information.

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Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society

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Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:

    Catherine Dolf
    C: (847) 894-9112
    O: (847) 384-4034
    Email Contact

    Lauren Pearson
    C: (224) 374-8610
    O: (847) 384-4031
    Email Contact