The patient population served by orthopaedic surgeons is becoming increasingly more diverse, but this is not yet reflected in our workforce. As the cultural diversity of our patient population grows, we must be adept at communicating with patients of all backgrounds.

Where Are We Now?

Efforts to improve the diversity of our workforce have been successful in increasing the number of female residents, but there has been no improvement in the number of African American and Hispanic residents. There is currently no centralized effort to recruit minority and female students to the specialty of orthopaedic surgery. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has been leading workshops to train residents and practicing surgeons in communication skills and cultural competency.

Where Do We Need to Go?

We must train the current generation of orthopaedic surgeons to become adept at interacting with patients of all backgrounds. While initiatives for crosscultural communication in orthopaedic surgery have been established, they have not yet been universally incorporated into residency training and Continuing Medical Education programs.

How Do We Get There?

We must continue to recruit the brightest students of all backgrounds, with a concerted effort to provide equal opportunities for early guidance to all trainees. Opportunities to improve diversity among orthopaedic surgeons exist at many stages in a future physician’s career path, including “shadowing” in high school and college and continuing with mentorship in medical school. Additional resources should be dedicated to teaching residents about the immediate relevancy of cultural competency, and faculty should model these proficiencies during their patient interactions.

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