African-American AAOS president is devoted to educating, inspiring others
When E. Anthony
Rankin, MD, arrived at his first AAOS Annual Meeting in 1967, he found only
two African-American orthopaedists in attendance. Back then, there were only
about 10 board-certified African-American orthopaedic surgeons practicing in
the United States. Spurred on by this lack of diversity, Dr. Rankin—who became
the Academy’s first African-American president in 2008—chose to devote a
significant portion of his time and energy to making orthopaedics a more
President David D. Teuscher, MD, presents the 2016 Diversity Award to E.
Anthony Rankin, MD.
During yesterday’s Ceremonial Meeting, the AAOS presented
Dr. Rankin with the Diversity Award in recognition of more than 40 years of
educating and inspiring generations of minority and female orthopaedists and
providing high-quality, culturally competent care to untold numbers of patients
in the United States and around the world.
“Dr. Rankin has been an outstanding contributor in many
important aspects of diversity,” wrote Augustus
A. White III, MD, PhD, recipient of the 2006 Diversity Award, in support of
Dr. Rankin’s nomination for the award. “He was a pioneer.”
A record of
Born in Holly Springs, Miss., in 1940, Dr. Rankin graduated with
distinction from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., in 1961 and Meharry
Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., in 1965. Dr. Rankin was a member of the
Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and was chosen as the Most Outstanding
Senior Medical Student in both medicine and surgery.
After completing his internship and residency at Walter
Reed Army Medical Center, Dr. Rankin served as chief of orthopaedics at the
12th Evacuation Hospital and the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam, earning
the Bronze Star Medal. Dr. Rankin, who achieved the rank of Major in the U.S.
Army, earned the Army Commendation Medal during his time as chief of
orthopaedics at Walson Army Hospital in Fort Dix, N.J.
In 1973, Dr. Rankin chose to join Charles H. Epps, MD, in practice and to take a post at Howard
University, a historically African-American institution, with the goal of
helping to increase diversity in the profession by mentoring others and
treating a minority population. Currently a clinical professor of orthopaedic
surgery, Dr. Rankin—who specializes in adult reconstruction and hand surgery—is
also chief of orthopaedic surgery at Providence Hospital and clinical associate
professor (community and family medicine) at Georgetown University School of
Throughout his decades-long career, Dr. Rankin has made it his mission to
provide guidance and support to premedical students, medical students, and
scores of female and minority orthopaedic surgery residents, including Felasfa M. Wodajo, MD.
“Dr. Rankin has been instrumental to my career as an
orthopaedic surgeon from the very beginning,” wrote Dr. Wodajo, in support of Dr.
Rankin’s nomination. “I have no doubt that without Dr. Rankin, the door would
have remained locked for this minority orthopaedic surgeon to enter the field.
“Throughout my training at Howard University,” he
continued, “it is no exaggeration to say that Dr. Rankin set a singularly high
bar for personal excellence that affected every resident.”
Some of Dr. Wodajo’s most memorable patient interactions
were with Dr. Rankin at the now-shuttered D.C. General Hospital, the only
public hospital then operating in the District of Columbia. Dr. Rankin worked
there part-time for 25 years before it closed in 2001.
“The patients were scared—and, almost invariably,
confused,” Dr. Wodajo remembered, of seeing patients at the hospital’s
pediatric hip clinic. “No doubt they expected yet another doctor to tell them
something they did not understand, nor care if they did. Thus, for many of them
it was clearly a surprise to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be
given a chance to understand what their baby’s hips needed to develop
correctly. This was years before the term ‘culturally competent care,’ but it
was something instinctive for Dr. Rankin.”
talent for training residents has earned him numerous accolades. He received an
annual Outstanding Teaching Award from the Howard University graduating
residents for 12 years and was recognized by Georgetown University/Providence
Hospital with their “Teaching Excellence Award” for 10 consecutive years. He is
a five-time recipient of a certification of commendation from the District of
mentoring efforts go far beyond the institutions where he teaches and provides
care. He has also been a mentor in programs of the J. Robert Gladden Society
and the AAOS, including the Academy’s Leadership Fellows Program (LFP). Dr.
Rankin also volunteered his orthopaedic services at a homeless shelter once a
month for 14 years and has traveled to Liberia, Ethiopia, and Malawi to provide
urgently needed orthopaedic care to underprivileged patients.
Leading by example
Dr. Rankin has served in leadership positions in various professional
organizations and societies, including assuming the AAOS presidency in 2008.
“Dr. Rankin spent 9 years as a member of the AAOS Board
of Directors as a voice for minorities and females, and played a key role in
helping establish the first Committee on Diversity as well as the LFP, which
has been instrumental in recruiting highly qualified female and minority
orthopaedic surgeons to positions of leadership,” noted Dr. White, adding that
Dr. Rankin served as cochair of the committee that then-AAOS President Douglas Jackson, MD, formed to begin
diversity initiatives at the AAOS.
“The promotion of minority representation in orthopaedics
has been a well-recognized passion and commitment for Dr. Rankin,” noted Theodore L. Stringer, MD. “I believe
that I speak on behalf of the rank-and-file membership of the AAOS when I say
that Tony Rankin personifies our image of advocacy for diversity within our
Dr. Rankin was raised in the segregated South by mother
Robbie and father Edgar Everett Rankin, the latter of whom dreamed of a career
in medicine when such a thing was nearly impossible for African Americans.
Today, Dr. Rankin and his wife, Frances Espy Rankin, have a son, Marc E. Rankin, MD, who followed his
father’s example by becoming an orthopaedic surgeon.
For all of Dr. Rankin’s many achievements, Robert D. D’Ambrosia, MD, recipient of
the 2014 Diversity Award, calls Dr. Rankin a “living icon” who ‘walks the walk’
and casts a shadow of immense proportions.
According to Dr. D’Ambrosia, “Tony is a very special kind
of human being who has forged a path for many to follow.”
2015 Bonnie Simpson Mason, MD
2014 Robert D. D’Ambrosia, MD
2013 Mark H. Gonzalez, MD
2012 Franklin H. Sim, MD
2011 Freddie Fu, MD
2010 Douglas W. Jackson, MD
2009 Ramon L. Jimenez, MD
2008 Claudia Thomas, MD
2007 Alvin H. Crawford, MD
2006 Augustus A. White III, MD,
2005 Laura L. Tosi, MD
2004 Henry J. Mankin, MD
2003 Wayne O. Southwick, MD