AAOS Bulletin - October, 2005

Diversity Award winners put honorariums to work

By Kathleen Misovic

When Laura L. Tosi, MD, accepted the third annual Diversity Award at the 2005 Annual Meeting, her first thought was how the moment was made possible by women orthopaedists who came before her.

“The great thing about an award like this is that it makes you think about and remember all the people who went before you,” she said. “I owe my success to the unsung heroines who preceeded me. These groundbreaking women set the environment and climate that made it possible for me, and those who will come after me, to succeed.”

Dr. Tosi’s second thought was how proud she was to belong to a professional organization that values diversity.

“This award and the work of the Diversity Committee say really positive things about the Academy,” Dr. Tosi said. “In a world where there are tragic conflicts among people, I’m proud that the Academy has said that diversity has a place at the table.”

Recognizing a commitment to diversity

The Diversity Award was proposed by the Diversity Committee and approved by the AAOS Board of Directors in the spring of 2002 as a way to recognize individuals who have significantly contributed to the advancement of diversity in orthopaedics through the recruiting, mentoring and leadership of minority orthopaedists and the treatment of diverse patient populations. Dr. Tosi was honored for her dedication in providing care to underserved populations, delivering culturally competent care to many diverse groups and mentoring women and minorities to achieve excellence in orthopaedics.

The award includes an unrestricted $5,000 honorarium that may be used by the honoree in any manner. Dr. Tosi said she plans to give her prize money to the AAOS Public Education and Media Relations Department so it can locate and interview some of the early pioneers among women orthopaedists. She said perhaps their stories can be featured as part of the AAOS’ 75th anniversary celebration during the 2007 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. “Using this money to say thank you to these women is important to me,” she said.

Robert W. Bucholz, MD, presented the 2005 Diversity Award to Laura L. Tosi, MD.

Funding scholarships

While Dr. Tosi plans to use her award money to honor the memory of past orthopaedists, the first Diversity Award Winner, Wayne O. Southwick, MD, used his award money to help future orthopaedists

“I put the money into a scholarship program for medical students who otherwise couldn’t afford to go to medical school,” said Dr. Southwick, who retired from medical practice two years ago.

A former chairman of the orthopaedics department of Yale University, Dr. Southwick built a legacy of diversification among his faculty and resident trainees by creating a program that encouraged applications from qualified minority physicians.

“I didn’t take the approach that I was going to recruit a diverse group,” said Dr. Southwick. “Rather I looked to gather an interesting, qualified group that would work well together. What I found was a highly capable group of people with diverse backgrounds.”

James H. Herndon, MD, congratulates the 2004 Diversity Award winner, Henry J. Mankin, MD.

Funding research

The 2004 Diversity Award winner, Henry J. Mankin, MD, is also retired from medical practice as the former chief of orthopaedics at Massachusetts General Hospital. He served as director of residency programs at Massachusetts General and Harvard, where he brought women, African-Americans and Hispanics into his program.

“I think what the award did for me was not as important as what it did for other people who attended the conference and for those who read about my receiving the award,” Dr. Mankin said. “It let them know that dealing with people in the world of orthopaedic management should include people of all ethnic and gender backgrounds.”

Although Dr. Mankin is no longer recruiting residents, he is still very much involved in their education as a visiting professor who teaches residents at various medical schools. He’s also still active in lab research and has used his award money to further his research in bone and soft tissue tumors, cartilage and joint disease, and Gaucher disease, an inherited, enzyme-deficiency disorder that causes bone pain, degeneration and fractures.

Who’s next?

The 2006 Diversity Award recipient will be announced at the Annual Meeting in Chicago next March. All Academy fellows in good standing are eligible for the award. Candidates are nominated by other Academy Fellows, candidate members eligible for fellowship and orthopaedic residents.

Activities that qualify a fellow for the Diversity Award may include but are not limited to: Actively working to reduce obstacles preventing greater numbers of women and minorities from entering orthopaedics; teaching culturally competent care in a clinical and/or institutional setting; sponsoring, mentoring and guiding minority and women medical students into musculoskeletal health care careers; and pursuing a leadership role in eliminating disparities in health care.

Nominations are closed for the 2006 Diversity Award recipient. But don’t stop thinking about which of your colleagues may qualify for the 2007 Award. Those nominations will open in June 2006.

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