Recently the American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics (AOAO) Board of Directors unanimously approved the official request for a female orthopedic section. The goal of this new section is to provide an organized representation of our female members while furthering the mission and vision of the AOAO. The Academy’s mission is to facilitate the finest training and continuous development of Osteopathic Orthopedic Surgeons to positively improve the care, healing, and quality of life of patients and vision is to be a nationally recognized orthopedic organization that represents osteopathic principles and beliefs while advocating for all orthopedic surgeons, their patients, and the communities in which they live. As a section, one of our goals should be to support and encourage diversity of women in orthopedics.
Years prior to the formation of AOAO in 1941, Dr. Ruth Jackson, MD was the first practicing female orthopedist in the U.S. In 1932, she opened her office in Dallas, Texas. The following year the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) was founded. Dr. Jackson passed the Orthopedic Board Exam in 1937, becoming not only the first woman certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery but also the first woman admitted to the AAOS.
Although the representation of women in orthopedic surgery has grown over the last decade, this improvement still lags behind other specialties. To date, orthopedic surgery remains the specialty with the lowest proportion of female residents.
The female orthopedic section should exist to empower and promote the development of female orthopedic surgeons. Further, an additional purpose would be to foster communication and camaraderie amount its members and augment the success of the AOAO. The AOAO CME Committee has invited the female section to participate in AOAO educational endeavors such as lectures and conferences while also advancing the learning and understanding of our female members, applying the principles and practice of osteopathic medicine and surgery.
Ruth Sales, DO, one of the first osteopathic orthopedic female surgeons, graduated in 1975 from A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Sales is currently the only female life member of the AOAO. AOAO’s first female President, Debra Spatz, DO, also paved the way for women in leadership of the Academy, inducted in 2006. Women have also been elected, and continue to serve, as leaders of the various AOAO specialty sections.
Current AOAO Board member, Angela Rowe, DO has been a longstanding influence and leader. Dr. Rowe has been an inspirational force in the, transition of the Female Orthopedic Group to an official section in response to many female members of the AOAO expressing the need for diversifying orthopedics and collaboration. We now have the opportunity to advocate diversity in medicine while delivering excellence in orthopedic surgery All actively practicing female members, those in residency training and medical students, are welcome to join this new section and be a part of this new movement! Keep an eye on your emails from AOAO for updates.