Program allows young visitors to experience orthopaedics up close

Group photo
UT Southwestern presented a hands-on program about orthopaedics to about 40 high school-aged students recently.

By Lisa Warshaw

Less than 7 percent of orthopaedic surgeons in the U.S. are women, according to data from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It is a statistic that Dr. Katherine Coyner, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center, is trying to change.

On Oct. 5, Dr. Coyner and her colleagues hosted nearly 40 high school-aged young women for a hands-on science program. The event, hosted in conjunction with The Perry Initiative, was aimed at getting participants interested in pursuing careers in orthopaedic surgery and engineering. The one-day program gave students the opportunity to perform surgical simulations to correct scoliosis deformity, fix a broken femur, and even reconstruct a knee.

“The focus of the program is to encourage Dallas-area young women to consider a future career in medicine and engineering,” said Dr. Coyner, a sports medicine specialist. “I am passionate about my work and believe that early exposure to this exciting field is the key to boosting gender diversity in the area of sports medicine and orthopaedic surgery.”

Emy Franke, a senior at Ursuline Academy, said, “Participating in this program was an extraordinary experience. I admire that the program promotes women as leaders in medicine because we are capable of medical success, and this program encourages us to develop and be confident in our abilities.”

The Perry Initiative is a nonprofit organization committed to inspiring young women. The initiative runs hands-on outreach programs across the country targeted at female students in high school, college, and medical school.

Dr. Coyner said she hopes to grow the community-based program at UT Southwestern. The October program was a positive seeding opportunity.

“The event was a remarkable first step in reaching out to young women in our community and giving them the necessary tools to become leaders in medicine,” she said.