Diversity Committee reaches out at two spring conferences
By Kathleen Misovic
This spring, members of the AAOS Diversity Committee participated in two minority medical association conferences to encourage minority students to consider specializing in orthopaedic surgery.
For the fourth time, the Diversity Committee exhibited at the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Conference, held March 24-26 in St. Louis. The SNMA is an organization of about 18,000 primarily African-American medical and undergraduate pre-medical students.
Ramon L. Jimenez, MD, (left) discusses orthopaedics with students at the Student National Medical Association Conference in St. Louis.
The following week the committee exhibited at the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) Conference for the first time. The conference was held in Los Angeles from March 31-April 2. NHMA is a non-profit association representing about 36,000 licensed Hispanic physicians and about 600 medical students across the United States.
The committee’s purpose in attending the SNMA and NHMA conferences was twofold: to advise minority medical students to consider specializing in orthopaedics, and to recruit these students for AAOS mentoring programs.
Networking with students
At the SNMA meeting, the AAOS hosted an evening outreach event for medical students who were pre-qualified by conversations with volunteers and staff members at the AAOS booth on the exhibit floor. The event drew a record number of 175 students and featured the Academy’s recruitment video, “Follow Your Path.” It also allowed students to meet and network with Diversity Committee members and volunteers, including Ramon L. Jimenez, MD, chairman of the AAOS Diversity Committee. Other AAOS members who participated in the SNMA conference included: Bonnie Simpson, MD; Michael J. Harris, MD; Vincent Key, MD; Michael E. Trice, MD; Katherine A. Burns, MD; Leesa M. Galatz, MD; and Brett A. Taylor, MD.
A highlight of the event was three bio skills demonstrations, provided by Zimmer, that were set up to give students a better understanding of what orthopaedic surgeons do. One demo showing a total knee replacement procedure executed by Dr. Trice was especially popular.
At the NHMA conference, Dr. Jimenez was a panelist in a workshop titled “Obtaining a Residency Program.” “The panel was made up of four physicians: an obstetrician-gynecologist, a general practitioner, a military surgeon and myself,” Dr. Jimenez said. “My role was to explain what an orthopaedic surgeon is and to give the students tips on ways to overcome the obstacles of getting into an orthopaedic residency program.”
Following the panel, Dr. Jimenez and Fernando A. Ravessoud, MD, who is also a member of the Diversity Committee, hosted 15 medical students at a small outreach event. The doctors showed the recruitment video and conversed with the students. “Of the 15 students who attended the reception, hopefully five will follow through and become orthopaedic surgeons,” Dr. Jimenez said. “In the future, we would like closer to 10 out of 15 interested Hispanic students to pick orthopaedics.”
Mentors make a difference
Dr. Jimenez said minorities face numerous barriers that prevent many from obtaining careers in medicine, such as lack of role models, and socioeconomic conditions. “Many minorities have to work while they’re in school, so they don’t have the time to study for better grades, don’t score as well in tests and don’t get into residency programs,” he explained. “If they can work with a mentor who can guide them through the process, show them ways to overcome barriers and direct them towards an internship, this will help them.”
As a result of the two conferences, the AAOS collected 58 completed mentoring program applications.
The Diversity Committee is considering attending the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science conference in the fall as another venue to reach more Hispanic medical students. Although this group covers all natural sciences and includes college through graduate students, the Diversity Committee is confident it should be able to generate a lot of interest among the 2,000 students who typically attend this event. The meeting will take place Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 in Denver. Committee participation is contingent upon availability of staff and volunteers as well as funding.
The Diversity Committee does plan to attend next year’s SNMA conference, which will take place April 13 -15 in Atlanta.