Home News AANA aims to promote diversity, inclusion in orthopedics through new course

AANA aims to promote diversity, inclusion in orthopedics through new course


September 07, 2022

4 min read


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While nearly 50.2% of medical school students are from historically underrepresented groups, only 25.6% pursue an orthopedic residency, according to the 2020 Physician Specialty Data report from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The report also showed only 5.8% of all practicing orthopedic surgeons in the United States are women and the published literature has shown about 15% of orthopedic residents are women, despite women accounting for 53.5% of applicants to MD-granting medical schools during the 2019 to 2020 application cycle.

Diverse group of health care professionals talking
Source: Adobe Stock
Brian J. Cole

Brian J. Cole

“The transition point [of those underrepresented in medicine] seems to be in medical school,” Brian J. Cole, MD, MBA, FAANA, past president of the Arthroscopy Association of North America, told Healio. “Where we do well at the medical school setting by gender and by ethnicity, we do less well when it comes to choosing surgery as a field of expertise as they move through their medical training.”


To promote diversity and inclusion within the orthopedic community, AANA announced a biannual course series titled “The Future Scope: Introduction to Orthopedics and Arthroscopy,” which is geared toward first- and second-year medical students who may be interested in orthopedics and are women or from underrepresented groups.

James W. Stone

James W. Stone

“Obviously, once young people are already in their residency, that is an ineffective time to start approaching them. Physicians, in general, do not often change their residencies. So, the most important time where we could expect to be impactful is in the first and second year of medical school when students are trying to determine in which field of medicine they want to specialize,” James W. Stone, MD, FAANA, president of AANA, said. “That would be the most likely time to have a positive influence on students and encourage them to develop an interest in orthopedic surgery when they normally would not have considered it.”

According to an AANA press release, the first course will be held on Oct. 1, 2022, at the MERCI Medical Lab in Park Ridge, Illinois, and is open to first- and second-year medical students in the Chicago area.

Mark H. Getelman

Mark H. Getelman

“We are reaching out to the medical schools in the Chicago area … and we are going to encourage those who are underrepresented to attend,” Mark H. Getelman, MD, FAANA, immediate past president of AANA, told Healio.

Day-to-day life of orthopedic surgeons

Featuring a diverse and influential faculty, sources who spoke with Healio said the Future Scope course will highlight the impact of orthopedics in medicine and the day-to-day life of orthopedic surgeons.

“It is not just the day job, but it is all the things that surround that, including family, the business, the academic and the practice side of being an orthopedic surgeon, independent of what your ethnicity is or your orientation,” Cole said.

Stone added that panel members will also discuss how they became interested in orthopedics as a profession.

“Not only arthroscopy, which is our association’s specialty, but also representatives from spine, sports, arthroplasty and others,” Stone told Healio. “These will include several female orthopedic surgeons along with others who are underrepresented in medicine so that the attendees can see how they got started in orthopedics and what influenced their decision.”

Getelman noted breakout sessions will include discussions on different types of practices, including academic, private and hospital employment, as well as the nonoperative side of orthopedics. Other discussion topics will cover splinting and casting, the use of biologics, the intersection of orthopedics and physical therapy, and orthopedic research, according to Stone.

Hands-on simulation, cadaver course

In addition to panel discussions, the course will include a hands-on component where attendees will have the opportunity to work with simulators and cadavers, according to Mary K. Mulcahey, MD, FAANA, diversity, equity and inclusion advisor for and member of the board of directors of AANA.

Mary K. Mulcahey

Mary K. Mulcahey

“There are going to be stations where they rotate through both the virtual component and a 2-hour cadaver lab where they are going to see some procedures demonstrated,” Mulcahey told Healio. Attendees will have the ability to practice with an arthroscope and be able to conduct open surgical procedures, like an open reduction and internal fixation for an ankle fracture, she said.

Finally, Getelman noted the Future Scope course will feature a diversity lecture from Eric W. Carson, MD, FAAOS, FAOA, on the challenges he experienced as a Black man going through the training process in orthopedics, as well as a lecture from Monica Kogan, MD, on how to apply to orthopedic residency programs and what orthopedic programs are looking for from applicants.

“One desired take away is that orthopedics is a subspecialty worth considering and that we are a welcoming community that is trying to encourage better diversity,” Getelman said. “We recognize that orthopedic surgery is the subspecialty that probably has the largest discrepancies, and we are trying to do our part to change that.”

Permanent offering

Mulcahey added another goal of the Future Scope course is for attendees to start building a network within orthopedics.

“There are going to be numerous orthopedic faculty there from different subspecialties within the field, many of whom are leaders already in orthopedics,” Mulcahey said. “So, it is a great opportunity for the students to start to develop that network, to seek out opportunities for shadowing, for potentially attending courses in the future, for obtaining letters of recommendation [and] for doing research. So, those are certainly all things that we hope that they will take away.”

With the second Future Scope course scheduled for Nov. 5, 2022, in Raynham, Massachusetts, AANA plans on continuing this course for the next 3 years.

“If we see that this course, by the third year, is moving the needle, then my hope is that we will be able to establish this as a permanent AANA offering that will become known as the way to help foster growth of diversity, equity and inclusion in our subspecialty,” Getelman said.


AANA announces a biannual course series for underrepresented medical students. Published May 23, 2022. Accessed Aug. 25, 2022.

Onuoha AC, et al. J Orthopaedic Experience & Innovation. February 2022. Comparative analysis of racial and gender diversity in orthopedic surgery applicants and residents from 2007 and 2019.

Van Heest A, et al. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2021;doi:10.2106/JBJS.OA.20.00157.

Van Heest A. Iowa Orthop J. 2020;40:1-4.

Women in medical schools: Dig into the latest record-breaking numbers. Published Sept. 29, 2021. Accessed Aug. 25, 2022.

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