AAOS leadership has made diversity an important strategic initiative. The AAOS Annual Meeting is AAOS’ flagship event and showcases the Academy to the world. Attendees include not only established orthopaedic surgeons but also orthopaedic trainees and medical students interested in orthopaedics. The latter groups represent the future of orthopaedics, and the impressions we make on those attendees can shape their choices of career and type of practice. Unfortunately, data show that faculty for Instructional Course Lectures (ICLs) and Symposia at the AAOS Annual Meeting are even less diverse than orthopaedic surgeons in general. It is our opinion that cultivating a more diverse faculty at the AAOS Annual Meeting is an important step to increase the diversity of our specialty.
Currently, women account for 6.5 percent of AAOS membership, and less than 5.0 percent of orthopaedic surgeons are black. Orthopaedic surgery has the lowest proportion of female residents—14 percent in the 2016–2017 academic year, an increase from 11 percent in the 2005–2006 academic year. The percentage increase in female residents over that time period (27.3 percent) is lower than in neurological (56.8 percent) and thoracic (111.2 percent) surgery. Women account for 17.8 percent of full-time faculty in orthopaedic surgery at American medical schools, which is lower than all other medical specialties. The specialty societies with the fewest women are The Knee Society (0.5 percent), The Hip Society (0.6 percent), and the Cervical Spine Research Society (1.5 percent).
With this in mind, and in keeping with the Academy’s Strategic Plan to increase diversity in orthopaedics, the Central Program, Central Instructional Courses, and Annual Meeting Committees are asking orthopaedic surgeons who submit applications for ICLs and Symposia to simply consider the diversity of their speaker panels as they plan their submissions and, whenever possible, include speakers from demographic groups that are underrepresented in orthopaedics.
There are a number of extremely well-qualified AAOS members who are experts in specific areas of orthopaedics, are excellent speakers, and have much to contribute. As a specialty, we can do a better job of including diverse members in all areas of our educational programming. This will ultimately forge new professional relationships, increase communication and understanding, and benefit our patients, our institutions, ourselves, and our Academy.
The deadline to submit your research to be shared with orthopaedic surgeons from around the world at the AAOS 2021 Annual Meeting is July 15.
Claudette M. Lajam, MD, FAAOS, is chair of the Central Program Committee.
Eric Strauss, MD, FAAOS, is chair of the Central Instructional Courses Committee.
Andrew H. Schmidt, MD, FAAOS, is chair of the Annual Meeting Committee.
Chambers CC, Ihnow SB, Monroe EJ, et al: Women in orthopaedic surgery: population trends in trainees and practicing surgeons. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2018;100:e116.
Stewart GW: We Need to Expand Efforts to Increase Diversity. Available at: www.aaos.org/aaosnow/2020/mar/commentary/commentary02/. Accessed June 24, 2020.