“One cannot go anywhere in the world without feeling the influence of Freddie Fu and the AAOS,” wrote John A. Bergfeld, MD, in supporting the nomination of Freddie H. Fu, MD, for the 2011 AAOS Diversity Award. “In his unique way, Dr. Fu epitomizes the word ‘diversity.’”
Freddie H. Fu, MD
Dr. Bergfeld’s letter was just one of more than 60 the AAOS received supporting Dr. Fu’s nomination. During yesterday’s Ceremonial Meeting, Dr. Fu accepted the 2011 Diversity Award in honor of his years of service training and supporting orthopaedists of virtually every culture and gender. The Diversity Award is given annually to members of the Academy who have distinguished themselves through outstanding commitment to making orthopaedics more representative of and accessible to diverse patient populations.
As one of the first Asian orthopaedic residents at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Fu has lived the meaning of diversity. When he helped found the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) sports medicine program, the program hosted a diverse group of fellows from within the United States as well as participants from all over the world, including Europe, Asia, and South America.
Dr. Fu became chair of the university’s department of orthopaedic surgery in 1998, and made it a priority to increase diversity across all areas of the program. Over the past decade, he has brought more than 500 international fellows from 34 countries to UPMC to conduct research and study orthopaedic surgery.
“The faculty is universally recognized for its academic excellence; its breadth with respect to ethnicity, gender, and background; and its provision of culturally competent care,” said Irvin E. Bomberger, executive director of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, of which Dr. Fu is a past president. “This melting pot of orthopaedic excellence has a transcendent effect not just on the lives of the UPMC residents and fellows, but on the communities in which they serve.”
“As an immigrant, I have seen first hand how difficult it may be for someone who is a bit different to find opportunities and receive mentorship,” explains Dr. Fu, who was born in Hong Kong. “Over the years, I’ve tried to understand and respect people of different backgrounds and to reach out to them.”
Dr. Fu’s “neighborhood”
Asked who has influenced his own life just as he has influenced so many others, Dr. Fu looks outside of orthopaedics to cite Fred Rogers, the television host of the long-running children’s show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
“With a warm smile, Mr. Rogers welcomed everyone to his neighborhood, taught us valuable lessons, and made us feel that all things are possible,” says Dr. Fu. “If we try and do the right thing, communicate and learn from each other, and treat everyone equally and with respect, we can attract the best and brightest—including those who historically may not have been exposed to a career in orthopaedic surgery. This personal investment will make our orthopaedic surgery ‘neighborhood’ more diverse and our specialty even stronger in the days ahead.”
“Dr. Fu is one of the most influential teachers and mentors to whom I have ever been exposed,” says Constance R. Chu, MD, a colleague of Dr. Fu’s at the University of Pittsburgh. “He sees the ‘student’ in everyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, or educational level, and treats everyone with equal enthusiasm and respect. From the orthopaedic residents, to the sports medicine fellows, to the surgeons on staff, he has hands-down the most diverse orthopaedic department in the country. My eyes have been opened socially, educationally, and professionally by this dynamic leader. It is an honor to have trained under Dr. Fu.”
Prepared by Peter Pollack, staff writer, AAOS Now.