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Orthopedic Enrichment Program Addresses Need for Diversity in Orthopedic Surgery

January 9, 2023

The Orthopedic Enrichment Program (OEP), a new educational opportunity made available to medical students across the Philadelphia region, held a launch event on Saturday, December 3, 2022. The OEP was created to address racial, ethnic and gender disparities that exist broadly in medicine and specifically in the field of orthopedic surgery.

This initiative is the work of third-year Drexel medical student and past president of the Drexel University College of Medicine Orthopedic Surgery Interest Group, David Okhuereigbe, who founded the OEP with the dual goals of creating meaningful hands-on experiences for medical students interested in pursuing careers in orthopedic surgery and diversifying the field of orthopedic surgery by increasing exposure to students who are underrepresented in medicine.

Twenty applicants from medical schools throughout the city, including 12 Drexel MD program students, were selected to attend the OEP, sponsored by DePuy Synthes’ Trauma Division. Students experienced a day of mentorship from orthopedic surgeons and staff experts at DePuy Synthes led by Brett Smith, regional sales manager. Orthopedic surgical faculty included Interim Chair of Orthopedic Surgery Martin Herman, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, Bobby Ndu, MD, University of Pennsylvania, and Larry Miller, MD, Rowan University, along with resident physicians Jenna Feldman, DO, Rowan University, Genoveffa Morway, DO, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Karnesha Goins, MD, Meharry Medical College. At the morning panel discussion, “My Journey to a Career in Orthopedic Surgery,” students interacted with faculty and Oray Boston, the worldwide DePuy Synthes Trauma Division president. The event included the opportunity for all participants to perform four hands-on, simulated surgical implant procedures on Sawbones anatomic models.

“The OEP represents the continued, needed effort to expand access to groups that are tremendously underrepresented in this field,” says Okhuereigbe. “There really aren’t enough opportunities available for medical students to gauge their fit for this career. This program was designed to address these big issues by expanding access in a way that hasn’t been seen before, while prioritizing the recruitment of groups that need to be seen more.”

Recent data from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education suggests that orthopedic surgery represents the least diverse specialty in all of medicine. This disparity is most pronounced in the Black and Latino/Hispanic communities, which comprise a mere combined 8% of orthopedic surgical residents yet represent a total 32.5% of the U.S. population. Women, while representing roughly 51% of the medical student body, comprise only 15% of orthopedic surgical residents.

It is the goal of Okhuereigbe and his supporters at DePuy Synthes to expand upon the OEP event in the upcoming year with semi-annual course events, each tailored to a different subspecialty within orthopedic surgery, including joint replacement, spine and sports medicine. Additional DePuy Synthes facilities aim to adopt the program as OEP advances in its mission to promote diversity in the field of orthopedic surgery across the country.

OEP faculty in the Sawbones lab at DePuy Synthes with David Okhuereigbe (far right)OEP faculty in the Sawbones lab at DePuy Synthes with David Okhuereigbe (far right).