Published on 4/7/2022

APRIL 2022, ROSEMONT, IL – The Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) and the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (RJOS) held their first joint event this past March for Specialty Day programming which took place at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The program, which proved to be a great success, was the first of its kind to address important and timely topics related to the long-standing gender disparity in orthopaedics.

The full-day event was the first time in the history of Specialty Day programming at AAOS that the importance of diversity and inclusion were brought to the podium spotlight in an impactful and educational way.

“Our goal from the onset of creating this program was to highlight the glaring discrepancies and how we as an orthopaedic community can address those discrepancies head on,” explains Brian R. Waterman, M.D., who served as one of the program’s chairs representing AANA. “The addition of an entire session devoted to diversity and recognizing the invaluable contributions of our female colleagues was just a start.”

The session on diversity included talks on implicit bias and imposter syndrome as well as a truly eye-opening panel discussion on moving the needle in diversity and orthopaedics. There was also a special talk that recognized the outstanding achievements of Freddie H. Fu, M.D., an orthopaedic visionary, diversity advocate and founding member of the International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance, who passed away last September.

“The vision for 2022 Specialty Day was unlike any educational event that’s been organized in years past,” AANA President Mark H. Getelman, M.D. notes. “Improving diversity and inclusion within our society has been a cornerstone of my presidential year, and this particular program made a giant step towards just that. Recognizing our colleague Dr. Fu, who fiercely advocated for diversity within orthopaedics and revolutionized how we care for all our patients, was very special and a natural and fitting addition.”

While joint-specific sessions on shoulder, knee and hip were key components to the program, talks within those sessions incorporated several important takeaways to care for the female athlete, which supported the program’s diverse and inclusive theme. Additionally, the annual Innovations Lecture, “Can Rocket Science Save Sports Medicine Innovation,” featured Martha Murray, M.D., Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-chief at Boston Children's Hospital and professor of orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. Her innovative work on the development of the Bridge-Enhanced Anterior Cruciate Ligament Repair (BEAR®) technology has won several awards.

Mary K. Mulcahey, M.D., who also served as one of the program’s chairs representing AANA and RJOS, and the AANA Diversity Officer, could not be more pleased with the program’s result.

“It was truly an incredible experience co-chairing this year’s Specialty Day program with my colleagues Drs. Brian Waterman and Anna Cohen-Rosenblum,” she states. “There were so many amazing speakers who discussed cutting-edge concepts in sports medicine. The diversity session’s panel discussion was truly inspirational and a great way for attendees to reflect on how to bring awareness to this important issue.”

The program garnered national attention as a feature for #SpeakUpOrtho, an initiative that aims to increase awareness surrounding gender bias, inequities and harassment within orthopaedic surgery.

“This program did an excellent job of putting diversity, equity and inclusion front and center,” says Julie A. Dodds, M.D., AANA's representative to the BOS Diversity Committee and co-chair of the AANA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. “Thank you to AANA and RJOS for an incredible and awe-inspiring session!”

While this program was a step in the right direction, there is so much more work to be done. Both AANA and RJOS look forward to bringing awareness to this important topic in future programming.

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