By Jennie McKee
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Ramon L. Jimenez, MD, made it his mission to increase diversity in orthopaedics. Throughout his career, Dr. Jimenez has been a role model and mentor to Latinos and other minorities, encouraging them to pursue the specialty and helping them thrive as orthopaedists.
The son of Mexican immigrants, Dr. Jimenez has worked to increase access to care for the Latino members of his community, and has traveled to Mexico to educate local physicians and treat orthopaedic patients. He provided guidance and direction to the Academy’s early diversity efforts, through his work on the Patient Education Committee and the Diversity Advisory Board.
AAOS President Tony Rankin, MD (right), presented the 2009 Diversity Award to Ramon L. Jimenez, MD.
Yesterday, the AAOS honored his efforts by presenting Dr. Jimenez with the 2009 AAOS Diversity Award.
“I appreciate this honor from the Academy, and its continuing support of this important award,” said Dr. Jimenez.
Mentoring, giving back to the community
Dr. Jimenez has devoted much of his career to encouraging those of diverse backgrounds to pursue the specialty. As a mentor and role model to participants of the AAOS Leadership Fellows program (LFP), Dr. Jimenez has shared his insight and provided guidance to several minority fellows.
Stuart Hirsch, MD, another LFP mentor, lauds Dr. Jimenez for his ability to lead, motivate, and inspire AAOS fellows.
“Dr. Jimenez has built bridges in our LFP workshops,” wrote Dr. Hirsch, in supporting Dr. Jimenez’s nomination. “Each year, he is highly rated by the fellows for his skills and dedication.”
Dr. Jimenez is actively involved in outreach efforts to Latino youth at middle schools in his community and has participated in a program for high school students who observed him in the clinic and hospital.
“As a minority, I experienced adversity and had to overcome barriers and obstacles to achieve my goals,” he explained. “So, I understand how important it is to have a role model when one is pursuing this career.”
Dr. Jimenez has also worked to ensure that patients in his community, which is more than 60 percent Latino, are able to obtain orthopaedic care. He employed bicultural and bilingual staff at his orthopaedic practice, and served as the medical director of an occupational medical clinic that provides care to a significant number of farm laborers from Mexico. He is now a senior orthopaedic consultant at Monterey Orthopaedic and Sports Institute.
Helping raise awareness
Dr. Jimenez has helped shape the Academy’s diversity initiatives for more than a decade. As chair of the Patient Education Committee, he played an integral role in developing Your Orthopaedic Connection (YOC), including the YOC Spanish-language section. He also co-authored and co-edited patient brochures and booklets, in both English and Spanish.
As chair of the Diversity Advisory Board, Dr. Jimenez led several diversity-related initiatives, including the Academy’s annual efforts to recruit minority medical students at the Student National Medical Association conference.
He was also responsible for the Academy’s increased participation in mentoring and outreach programs with the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society and the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society.
“His ability to select ad hoc members strengthened the advisory board and brought us new insight and talent,” says Valerae O. Lewis, MD. “In addition, he helped spread the excitement about the advisory board’s projects to a wider audience.”
Dr. Jimenez has also been active in educating orthopaedists about culturally competent care. He helped develop the “Culturally Competent Care” kiosk for the 2004 AAOS Annual Meeting, and was a major force in developing the Culturally Competent Care Guidebook and accompanying Cultural Competency Challenge CD-ROM. (Free copies are available online at www.aaos.org/diversity).
Dr. Jimenez continues to volunteer as an instructor of the culturally competent care “grand rounds” training seminars developed during his board tenure. This interactive program is geared to orthopaedic residents; program evaluations show that 99 percent of residents believe cultural competency should be taught in residency programs.
“It is incumbent upon orthopaedic surgeons to be compassionate as a physician,” said Dr. Jimenez. “Orthopaedists must be aware that patients may have fears and attitudes about surgery, disability, life, and death that are different than their own. We must be sensitive to those differences to communicate with the patient effectively and provide the best treatment possible.”
Giving diversity “wings”
Recently, he and Alberto A. Bolanos, MD, co-founded the American Association of Latino Orthopaedic Surgeons (ALAS). Dr. Jimenez is the president of the organization, which was formed with the support of the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society.
ALAS promotes mentoring and collegiality among orthopaedic surgeons interested in Latino communities, educates physicians about providing culturally competent care to Latino patients, and hopes to reduce healthcare disparities related to orthopaedics. He believes ALAS will serve a vital role in serving the growing numbers of Latinos and other minorities.
Early influences and professional accomplishments
Dr. Jimenez, a graduate of Santa Clara University and the St. Louis University School of Medicine, said that his parents contributed greatly to his success by encouraging him to assimilate into American culture and gain an education, while also urging him never to forget his heritage.
“They taught me to face obstacles straight on to acquire as much education as possible,” he said. “They also told me to never abandon my roots and to give back to my community.”
Dr. Jimenez has held leadership positions at the AAOS, the Western Orthopaedic Association, and the California Orthopaedic Association. He was chief of staff and on the board of trustees at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif., and serves on boards at Santa Clara University, National Hispanic University, and Palma High School.
“I chose orthopaedics,” said Dr. Jimenez, “because I wanted to help patients attain and maintain optimal musculoskeletal health throughout their lives. My mother was one of my greatest motivators. She had a sign on her kitchen wall— ‘Never Stop Moving,’ and I never have.”