Shriners Hospital Hosts Program for Aspiring Young Women


Young Women participating in the Program

Young women from throughout Northern California recently traveled to the Shriners Hospital in Sacramento to participate in the Perry Initiative, a program designed to encourage and empower young women to pursue careers in orthopaedic surgery and engineering. Thirty-three students from 15 different high schools participated in the all-day program led by doctors and engineers, including orthopaedic surgeons from the Northern California Shriners Hospital. Holly Leshikar, M.D., Candice McDaniel, M.D., Jenny Boakes, M.D., and Nicole Friel, M.D., joined others in guiding students through a series of hands-on exercises that included:

  • Fracture repair using plates and screws
  • Spinal Fusion for Scoliosis
  • Rotator Cuff Repair
  • External Fixation
  • And Knee Ligament Reconstruction

Young woman using a drill

Michelle James, M.D., chief of orthopaedics at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California, was an early advocate of The Perry Initiative. “Over the past 10 years, Perry Initiative workshops have shown thousands of girls that orthopaedic surgery and engineering are wonderful professions that are accessible to them. I am very proud that our hospital offered one of the first Perry Initiative workshops in 2010, and last weekend, under the direction of Holly Leshikar, M.D., and with the participation of orthopaedic surgeons, fellows, residents and medical students from UC Davis, we participated for the eighth time,” said Dr. James.

The Perry Initiative was founded in 2009 by Dr. Jenni Buckley, a mechanical engineer, and Dr. Lisa Lattanza, an orthopaedic surgeon, who worked together at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The program recognizes that strong partnerships between surgeons and engineers lead to improvements in orthopaedic implants and solutions to unmet clinical needs. The Perry Initiative now coordinates more than 40 one-day outreach programs nationwide each year. Named in honor of Dr. Jacquelin Perry, who was one of the few female orthopaedic surgeons in the country when she began her academic career in 1952, the Perry Initiative has reached over 10,000 students.

Woman speaking to a group of young students

Despite the increasing number of women entering medical and graduate school, only a small percentage (6.1 percent) of fully accredited practicing orthopaedic surgeons are women, according to a 2014 survey by the American Academy of Orthpaedic Surgeons. Only 12.4 percent of the faculty at engineering schools are women, with that percentage being lower for mechanical

The Perry Initiative took place at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California on Saturday, Sept. 14. Devoted to advancing the lives of children through treatment, teaching and research, Shriners Hospital is a proud partner of The Perry Initiative.

Girls working on a model of a pelvil

Girls holding a model of a spine