Shriners Children’s Inspires Young Women to Pursue Careers in Orthopedic Surgery with The Perry Initiative
Female orthopedic surgeons and residents from Shriners Children’s Northern California led a hands-on workshop for aspiring teenage girls with interests in medicine and engineering. This one-day event, in partnership with UC Davis Orthopedics Department, is part of The Perry Initiative, a Shriners Children’s-sponsored program designed to encourage and empower young women to pursue careers in orthopedic surgery and engineering.
“The reason that we all do this is to pay it back and to pay it forward,” said Shriners Children’s orthopedic surgeon Holly Leshikar, M.D. “None of us would be here without great mentorship, but our goal is to show women that there is this possibility in their future.”
More than 30 teenage girls from local Sacramento high schools participated in this year’s program. The students spent time working with orthopedic surgeons Amanda Whitaker, M.D., Nicole Friel, M.D., Micah Sinclair, M.D., Claire Manske, M.D., and UC Davis medical staff. Together, they guided students through six hands-on exercises including fracture repair using plates and screws, practicing sutures on pig’s feet, spinal fusion for scoliosis, rotator cuff repair, external fixation and knee ligament reconstruction.
A Lasting Legacy
The Perry Initiative was founded in 2009 by Jenni Buckley, M.D., a mechanical engineer, and Lisa Lattanza, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco. The program they created recognizes that strong partnerships between surgeons and engineers lead to improvements in orthopedic 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 Jacquelin Perry, M.D., who was among the first women certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, as well as a pioneer in the field of gaitanalysis and post-polio rehabilitation, the Perry Initiative has reached over 13,000 female students in the United States.
Michelle James, M.D., emeritus chief of orthopedics at Shriners Children’s Northern California, was an early advocate of The Perry Initiative. She recognized that while women make up half of all medical students, only a small percentage decide to pursue orthopedics, and she wanted to help increase that figure. Currently, women make up less than 8% of practicing orthopedic surgeons and approximately 12% of practicing engineers.
“The Perry Initiative workshops have shown thousands of girls that orthopedic surgery and engineering are wonderful professions that are accessible to them,” said Dr. James.
Shriners Children’s Northern California offered one of the first Perry Initiative workshops in 2010, and continued this tradition by participating for the eleventh time this year, continuing to be a proud sponsor and upholding the Shriners Children’s mission of teaching and training the next generation of medical professionals.
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