Of all the medical and surgical subspecialties, orthopedic surgery historically has had the lowest percentage of women and minorities. Mayo Clinic
's orthopedic surgery department is working to change that. In the summer of 2021, two female medical students participated in an eight-week clinical and research internship in orthopedic surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The program was developed by Nth Dimensions, an organization that seeks to bring more women and minorities into the profession.
"I think it's important to have more women, more people of color and diversity overall in orthopedic surgery for several reasons," says Dr. Kelechi R. Okoroha, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon and an Nth Dimensions scholar. "Our population in America is very diverse. I think our patients deserve an equally diverse group of surgeons who are each equipped naturally with different cultural competencies to help treat them. Additionally, diversity in our surgeons will help decrease some of the inequalities you see in health care and treatment of patients today."
On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Okoroha discusses his journey to become an orthopedic surgeon and his work as a mentor at Mayo Clinic.
coming up on Mayo Clinic Q. And A. And as a minority, I always understood that the fact that my road to becoming a surgeon will be a little bit more difficult than others this summer Mayo Clinic's orthopedic surgery department and the F dimension internship program will introduce two female medical students to the field of orthopedic surgery. This internship offers a unique opportunity for women and minority students to gain valuable firsthand clinical and research experience. I think it's important to have more women, more people of color and diversity overall and orthopedic surgery for several reasons. I mean our population in America is very diverse and I think our patients deserve an equally diverse group of surgeons who are each equipped naturally with different cultural competencies to help treat them. Additionally, diversity in our surgeons will help decrease some of the inequalities we see in health care and treatment of patients today. Welcome to Mayo clinic Q. And A. I'm dead balls are sitting in for dr Helena gazelka of all the medical and surgical subspecialties. Orthopedic surgery historically has had the lowest percentage of women and minorities. Mayo clinic's orthopedic surgery department is working hard to change that this summer to female medical students are participating In an eight week clinical and research internship and orthopedic surgery in Rochester Minnesota. The program was developed by end dimensions. An organization that seeks to bring more women and minorities into the profession with me today to discuss as Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon and graduate of dimension dr colecchia cora. Ha. Thanks for joining us today. Doctor doctor, diversity, equity and inclusion are recognized as extremely important. Currently, can you tell us a little bit about your journey, your story? Yeah. Thanks for having me. Deb well a little bit more about me. I'm the son of two Nigerian immigrants who migrated to America for better education opportunities. And so I grew up playing basketball and loving sports and then as my dreams and aspirations of playing in the NBA faded, I transitioned my love into wanting to become a great surgeon. Were there any obstacles doctor related to your lack of equity in your journey to become a physician and an orthopedic surgeon? Yeah, Well I attended to HBC US for under graduated medical school in Xavier University of Louisiana and Howard medical school. So I was always aware of the differences and rates of minorities becoming physicians and surgeons and as a minority, I always understood that the fact that my road to becoming a surgeon would be a little bit more difficult than others. Even more so because I didn't intend any A B league schools. Um, but I think I was prepared for that doctor. Why is it important to have more women and people of color and diversity overall in orthopedic surgery? Yeah. So I think it's important to have more women, more people of color and diversity overall and orthopedic surgery for several reasons. I mean our population in America is very diverse and I think our patients deserve an equally diverse group of surgeons who are each equipped naturally with different cultural competencies to help treat them. Additionally, diversity in our surgeons will help decrease some of the inequalities we see in health care and treatment of patients today. Can you tell us more about what is N dimensions? Can you explain what it is? So anthem mentions is an organization that was founded by orthopedic surgeons with the goal of eliminating health care disparities for all communities. The program was initially founded in the field of orthopedics but it's now expanded to other fields such as dermatology. And so one of the major programs is a summer internship which pairs underrepresented minorities would establish orthopedic surgeons over a summer of mentoring research and professional development. Well, what is its connection to Mayo clinic orthopedics? How does that work? Yeah, I guess you can say I was the connection for the program in Mayo Clinic. Um as a former n to mention scholar myself, I really remembered how beneficial the program was and all the relationships I was able to gain. And so therefore I propose that we implemented here at Mayo Clinic. When I started, I'd love to hear a little bit more about your connections and your your relationship. Tell me a little bit more about that when you were a part of that program and end dimensions And you had mentioned that you were the connection. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Yeah. So this summer in between my first year and my second year of medical school at Howard University, I applied for the end dimension program as I was interested in orthopedics. And so I was prepared uh with another minority surgeon at providence and he really exposed me to orthopedic surgery. I got to see surgeries. I was involved in research projects and I just developed a vast connection of other surgeons who are all helping me obtain my goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. And so I thought that was really beneficial and something that I really treasured as a medical student. How does an effort like this program in, in this internship fit into, Do you think Mayo clinic's overall goals for diversity equity and inclusion? Yeah, So I think it fits in great as as Mayo has made a real commitment to increase diversity and institution. I mean to my knowledge, I'm the first african american orthopedic consultant at the institution. So that in itself is a huge step and also our diversity chair dr Barlow is a huge diversity. Afghan has already made great strides to increase diversity institution before I arrived. And so he was right on board with the idea of dimensions and try to push it through as quickly as possible. You're an alumnus and now a mentor of this end degree dimensions dimensions program. How does that experience as a participant influencer role as a mentor. How does that feel? How does that influence you? Right, so I think I have the unique experience to being on both sides of the coin. And so now I'm really able to give back and pass down all that knowledge and guidance I was given in order to help others become successful. So speaking of others, let's talk about what your mentees will be doing. So they'll be here for eight weeks. What will they get to see do here? What will their experience be like? So our mentees will get a great exposure to all aspects of orthopedics here. They'll gain clinical knowledge, might be able to see patients the clinic, they'll gain operative experience by able to shadow surgeries. They'll gain research experience as they will be the lead on a research paper as well as other educational opportunities through conferences and clinical aps what do you hope your mentees will take away from this experience? Doctor? So ultimately, I think we hope that this experience will reinforce our mentalist desires to become orthopedic surgeons. We also hope that they will gain valuable knowledge and connections here while ultimately building their CV to become more competitive. Where would you like to see this program go next? I mean, if you were among the first here at Mayo Clinic, where would you like to see this grow this program? Yeah. So I think we want this program to grow and the fact that we start taking more in dimension scholars each year and our overall goal is to increase diversity institutions. So what that looks like is recruiting more residents and then ultimately recruiting more staff. And so we kind of mimic our population as a whole. What would you recommend doctor to people who are struggling to get an education due to diversity barriers? So what would you, what would you recommend to to those? Yeah, it's tough and it can be difficult. Um, but I recommend never giving up. You know, we know as minorities, the path to becoming a physician is more difficult and hopefully that changes here in the near future. Um, but as the saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way. And so I think you have to find different methods to obtain the goals and seek out people who may have been in similar situations as you and who are willing to help doctor. Thank you for taking time. Congratulations to you, Looking forward to hearing about how your mentees do. Good luck on the program and please, once you tell us your name and what you do here at Mayo Clinic. So my name is calicchio Cora Ha, I'm a new orthopedic sports medicine consultant at the Mayo Clinic. I specialize in all sports medicine surgeries, hip arthroscopy and shoulder arthur plastic. And I'm also one of the team physicians for the Minnesota Timberwolves. And are you, what facility are you at the Mayo clinic? Um, uh, Minnesota downtown Minnesota facility? Doctor. Yes. So I see patients at Mayo clinic square in Minneapolis. But I also operate in Rochester. Very good. Thank you doctor for taking time uh from your busy day to talk with us about diversity inclusion in the program of dimensions. Uh Good luck to you and thanks so much for your time today. Are thanks today to Mayo clinic orthopedic surgeon. Dr coletti Cora. Thank you and thanks for listening. Mayo Clinic Q. And A. Is a production of the Mayo Clinic News Network and is available wherever you get and subscribe to your favorite podcasts. 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