Justifications and Needs for Diversity in Orthopaedics

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Abstract

America is founded on high humanitarian, democratic ideals. The historic facts of slavery, discrimination, and segregation challenge and taint these democratic principles. Although progress has been made, serious racial problems remain. In 1997, the United States had 474 active hate groups, up 20% from 1996. African American males who have the same education as white males doing the same work earn approximately 75% of what their white counterparts earn. America, as predicted by the Kerner Commission Report, is two societies: black and white, separate, and unequal. Some astonishing disparities in healthcare exist. Peer reviewed medical literature documents that African Americans have higher infant mortality rates, shorter life expectancies, fewer joint replacements, and more amputations than whites. Communications within a diverse group of students and teachers enriches the educational experience. The late Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, LLD, asserted that a medical student from a particular background may enrich classmates' understanding of people whose cultures are different from their own, and improve their ability to serve a heterogeneous patient population. Diversity on clinical teams can enhance rapport between patient and physician, and can diminish unthinking insults to patients, born of physician ethnic insensitivity. Healthcare facilities with diverse staffs are more likely than homogeneous facilities to attract and successfully serve the nation's diverse population. A University of California at Davis School of Medicine study showed that diversity can be achieved without compromising quality of patient care. Clinically and ideologically, diversity in orthopaedics is good for patients and for the country.

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