August 2004 Bulletin

Video promotes orthopaedics to med students

By Carolyn Rogers

Recent Academy research shows that medical students receive little or no exposure to orthopaedics during their time in medical school. To ensure that more students are made aware of the opportunities awaiting them in orthopaedics, the AAOS Diversity Committee joined forces with the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (RJOS) and J.R. Gladden Orthopaedic Society (JRGOS) to produce “Follow Your Path”—a videotape program that promotes orthopaedics as an attractive career choice to first and second year medical students.

Grassroots communication program

The 12-minute video primarily addresses the concerns of women and underrepresented minorities by dispelling some of the myths that often discourage these students from considering a career in orthopaedics. “Follow Your Path” centers on the careers of three prominent orthopaedic surgeons—J. Sybil Biermann, MD; Aaron Rosenburg, MD; and James Hill, MD. The orthopaedists explain why they chose the specialty, what they like most about orthopaedics and the challenges they’ve encountered and overcome.

The video serves as the foundation of a grassroots communication program designed to help interested orthopaedic surgeons and residency program directors recruit top-level women and minority medical students.

Video draws a crowd in Texas

Hundreds of medical students apply each year to the orthopaedic residency program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (UTSMS), but “very few of the applicants have been women or underrepresented minorities,” says AAOS President Robert W. Bucholz, MD, chair of the UTSMS department of orthopaedics.

Dr. Bucholz always suspected that the pool of women and minority students interested in orthopaedics was actually much greater than the small number of applicants would imply.

His theory was put to the test this spring, when he sent notices to all second- and third-year medical students, inviting anyone with a passing interest in orthopaedics to join him for an informational talk and a showing of the “Follow Your Path” video.

To his surprise, nearly 60 medical students turned up for the 45-minute gathering.

“It was a tremendous turnout,” he says. “Twenty of the students were women, and at least five to seven of the participants were members of underrepresented minorities. There was great enthusiasm overall, and the video was extremely well received.”

Beginning in September, Dr. Bucholz will meet with the students once a month to discuss different aspects of orthopaedics and how to get into an orthopaedic residency program etc.

“This has reaffirmed my belief that the success of any diversity effort is largely contingent on a strong grassroots movement,” he says. “This has to happen at the local level, and we have to target our efforts toward medical students in their more formative years—the first and second year, in particular.”

Dr. Bucholz stresses that the goal of this diversity effort is not to bias the selection process in favor of women and minorities. “It’s just to get more of them to apply,” he says.

Host your own “screening”

AAOS, RJOS and JRGOS are actively seeking volunteers interested in showing “Follow Your Path” to groups of medical students in their communities.

In addition to the video, the grassroots communication package also comes with a “leader’s guide”—a scripted presentation that provides the host with relevant, accurate information about opportunities in the specialty. Culturally sensitive recruitment brochures that further explore orthopaedic career options and provide general information about the mentoring program are also part of the grassroots campaign package.

The materials are available free of charge to any orthopaedic surgeon in the United States or Canada who wishes to take part in this grassroots communication effort.

If you would like to participate in recruiting the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons, please contact Dave Racine at the AAOS at (847) 384-4163, or e-mail mentor@aaos.org.


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