Bridging the Gap: A Call to Action for Health Equity

Bridging the Gap: A Call to Action for Health Equity

By: L. Nathan Gause, MD, MBA, FAAOS | Vice Chair, Clinical Operations and DEIB, Assistant Professor, Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery | University of Missouri – Kansas City & Medical Director, DEIB | University Health

In the dynamic world of medicine, diversity is the heartbeat of innovation and progress. As the first physician in my family, my journey was profoundly shaped by a mentor I acquired in high school – a male descendant of Africans, just like me. His guidance fueled my ambition to pursue Orthopaedic Surgery, a field that, despite its prominence, grapples with a disheartening lack of diversity. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” said Marian Wright Elderman, and in the realm of Orthopaedic Surgery, this sentiment resonates with profound urgency.

Orthopaedic surgery is one of the premier fields in medicine, yet there is a staggering lack of diversity. In the vast landscape of 23,000 practicing Orthopaedic surgeons in the U.S., a mere 2.2% identify as Latinx, less than 2% are African American, and shockingly, the percentage of females hovers below 6%. This stark absence of representation reverberates into health inequities within musculoskeletal care.

On November 4th, 2023, at University Health – Kansas City, a beacon of change illuminated the future of Orthopaedic Surgery. The “Bridging the Gap Event,” a single-day, collaborative endeavor involving the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, the University of Missouri School of Medicine (Columbia), Children’s Mercy Kansas City, University Health, and PREP-KC, united 30 brilliant, local high school students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Through hands-on experiences like splinting, operating room tours, x-ray/anatomy class, and a captivating sawbones lab, these students delved into the multifaceted world of Orthopaedics. However, the true catalyst for inspiration was the narratives shared by Orthopaedic surgeons who mirrored their backgrounds. This event epitomized the power of representation, proving that diverse role models pave the way for a more inclusive future.

Our collective journey is a testament to the possibilities within Orthopaedic Surgery, but it doesn’t end here. “Bridging the Gap” is just one ripple in a wave of initiatives nationwide aimed at dismantling barriers and fostering inclusivity in medicine.

Health equity is not a distant goal but an urgent call to action across all medical fields. Let’s champion positive change by amplifying representation. The time is now. Let’s reshape the future of medicine.

For more insight into this topic, click here.




Interested in Getting more involved with BioNexus KC and our events?