Barriers to Minorities in the Orthopaedic Profession

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The rapidly growing population of the United States is becoming more diversified in its ethnicity. Conversely, the orthopaedic profession has not kept pace with this increase. Although 1/3 of the total population is comprised of Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans, only 7% of all orthopaedic surgeons represent these minorities. There is a widespread need for minority orthopaedic surgeons who can communicate with and understand these patients to provide them with competent cultural care. Minority students face significant barriers, intrinsic and extrinsic, which impede them in choosing orthopaedics as a career. Recognizing that these barriers are rooted in the early years of education, solutions such as mentoring activities, good guidance counseling, and accessible role models should be advocated and adopted. Misconceptions on the part of the minority students, medical school admissions committees, and directors of orthopaedic residency training programs may lead to negative impressions and results. The purpose of this paper is to make the orthopaedic community aware of this disparity and the barriers that underrepresented minority students encounter. Hopefully an appropriate positive response by those who have the ability to make a difference will result, thus facilitating the pathway for the minority student to become an orthopaedic surgeon.

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