Research has shown that diversity improves productivity, research quality, and, perhaps most importantly, healthcare outcomes. In the field of medicine, orthopaedic surgery has been slower than other specialties to recruit women and underrepresented minorities. Acknowledging the importance of diversity is a first step toward reducing this gap.
To address some of these concerns, the Campbell Clinic Foundation (CCF) formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. The committee, which meets quarterly, includes CCF associates, former and current residents and fellows, and Campbell Clinic (CC) attending physicians from a wide variety of backgrounds. Increased diversity will allow the Clinic and the Foundation to continue as strong, resilient, and compassionate organizations.
The committee statement outlines its areas of focus: The Campbell Clinic Foundation strives to foster a vibrant, dynamic community of orthopaedic surgeons, staff, and partners. We recognize diversity as an important step toward the elimination of healthcare disparities, caring for our community and strengthening our education, research, and outreach programs. We are committed to an affirming, inclusive workplace, and culture.
Several steps have been taken to address DEI in the last year. Improvements in outreach and communication continue within the residency program, attracting more matches with women and members of underrepresented minority groups in both the 2022 and 2023 incoming classes. The UTHSC Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity has delivered annual lectures in our education program. During the 2022 Triennial meeting and Alvin J. Ingram Memorial Lecture, an expert panel discussed DEI, featuring Visiting Faculty Drs. Amy Ladd and Michael Parks, and alumni, Dr. Kaku Barkoh (Class of 2016).
The CCF DEI committee is dedicated to increasing access, inclusion, and representation by raising awareness of its importance and actively engaging with groups dedicated to DEI. Partnerships with Nth Dimensions and J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society, and being intentional in the mentoring and recruitment, fosters relationships and trust.
Nth Dimensions is a national organization founded by Dr. Bonnie Mason, MD, an African American female orthopaedic surgeon who experienced a career-ending medical issue and repurposed her knowledge and expertise to create opportunities for students just like her. The core focus of Nth Dimensions is the summer internship program for first-year medical students.
In 2022, the Foundation hosted Nth Dimension scholar Dr. Kathryn Eaton for an 8 week clinical rotation, which was enhanced by mentorship, coaching, and research. Dr. Eaton earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, a Master’s degree from Philadelphia College of Medicine in Suwanee, GA and a doctoral degree with work from two institutions, University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). She is currently a medical student in the class of 2025 at the College of Medicine at UAMS.
Working with Dr. David Richardson as her clinical preceptor and Dr. Derek Kelly as her research preceptor, Dr. Eaton completed clinical experience structured by shadowing Campbell Clinic attendings in various subspecialties during each of the 8 weeks of the program: Drs. Beaty and Sawyer in pediatrics, Drs. Richardson and Bettin in foot and ankle, Drs. Mihalko and Guyton in adult joint reconstruction, and Drs. Azar and Brown in sports medicine. Her research with Dr. Kelly focused on a case series and literature review that researched the presence of accessory musculature that may contribute to the recurrence of congenital clubfoot after initial healing through Ponseti casting.
Although there were “too many positive experiences to choose a favorite,” Dr. Eaton explained, she shared one remarkable clinical experience during her time at with the Foundation and Campbell Clinic: I was working with Dr. Beaty with a long-term patient of his with osteogenesis imperfecta cystica. The patient was so inspiring to me; their joy was infectious and positive, even though they were experiencing such difficult circumstances. I was very encouraged by observing Dr. Beaty’s phenomenal patient care and interaction with the patient and family members throughout the office visit. Overall, I gained a sense of the true character of Campbell Clinic and a deeper understanding of the expertise and talent that must be integrated with compassion and humility to serve as an orthopaedic surgeon.
Dr. Eaton is grateful to each of the physicians who taught her various surgical techniques, more about surgical anatomy and approaches, and allowed her to have such an immersive experience. She gained confidence to know that she can be part of the orthopaedic surgery fi eld, and she knows that she has the needed support and guidance to be successful.
Dr. Eaton hopes to be accepted into an orthopaedic surgery residency program that will support her growth and development. While she is undecided about a subspecialty, her overall goal is to work in a diverse community to provide guidance and care to patients in their healing and rehabilitation processes. In the long-term, she and her husband, a physical therapist, aim to open a clinic that will provide orthopaedic and physical therapy services. She also plans to serve as a mentor to students from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in medical careers.
Exciting new initiatives will be forthcoming from the CCF DEI committee, including a high school BioSkills workshop and local educational outreach programs to generate interest in orthopaedics from a diverse student population. In the words of Clinical Research Coordinator and DEI committee member Larry Baker, “We are on a journey – to create better systems and programs to solve the complex problems in an everchanging diverse world.