Can a Strategic Pipeline Initiative Increase the Number of Women and Underrepresented Minorities in Orthopaedic Surgery?

Background

Women and minorities remain underrepresented in orthopaedic surgery. In an attempt to increase the diversity of those entering the physician workforce, Nth Dimensions implemented a targeted pipeline curriculum that includes the Orthopaedic Summer Internship Program. The program exposes medical students to the specialty of orthopaedic surgery and equips students to be competitive applicants to orthopaedic surgery residency programs. The effect of this program on women and underrepresented minority applicants to orthopaedic residencies is highlighted in this article.

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Questions/purposes

(1) For women we asked: is completing the Orthopaedic Summer Internship Program associated with higher odds of applying to orthopaedic surgery residency?

(2) For underrepresented minorities, is completing the Orthopaedic Summer Internship Program associated with higher odds of applying to orthopaedic residency?

Methods

Between 2005 and 2012, 118 students completed the Nth Dimensions/American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Orthopaedic Summer Internship Program.

The summer internship consisted of an 8-week clinical and research program between the first and second years of medical school and included a series of musculoskeletal lectures, hands-on, practical workshops, presentation of a completed research project, ongoing mentoring, professional development, and counselling through each participant’s subsequent years of medical school.

In correlation with available national application data, residency application data were obtained for those Orthopaedic Summer Internship Program participants who applied to the match between 2011 through 2014.

For these 4 cohort years, we evaluated whether this program was associated with increased odds of applying to orthopaedic surgery residency compared with national controls. For the same four cohorts, we evaluated whether underrepresented minority students who completed the program had increased odds of applying to an orthopaedic surgery residency compared with national controls.

Results

Fifty Orthopaedic Summer Internship scholars applied for an orthopaedic residency position.

For women, completion of the Orthopaedic Summer Internship was associated with increased odds of applying to orthopaedic surgery residency (after summer internship: nine of 17 [35%]; national controls: 800 of 78,316 [1%]; odds ratio [OR], 51.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 21.1–122.0; p < 0.001).

Similarly, for underrepresented minorities, Orthopaedic Summer Internship completion was also associated with increased odds of orthopaedic applications from 2011 to 2014 (after Orthopaedic Summer Internship: 15 of 48 [31%]; non-Orthopaedic Summer Internship applicants nationally: 782 of 25,676 [3%]; OR, 14.5 [7.3–27.5]; p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Completion of the Nth Dimensions Orthopaedic Summer Internship Program has a positive impact on increasing the odds of each student participant applying to an orthopaedic surgery residency program. This program may be a key factor in contributing to the pipeline of women and underrepresented minorities into orthopaedic surgery.

Level of Evidence

Level III, therapeutic study.