Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Loyola Is Changing the Face of Orthopaedic Surgery

Twenty percent of orthopaedic faculty are women

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Loyola University Health System is a leader in the effort to increase the number of female orthopaedic surgeons. At Loyola, 20 percent of orthopaedic faculty and 16 percent of orthopaedic residents are women. And at Loyola's Stritch School of Medicine, six of the 11 fourth-year students applying for orthopaedic residencies are women. Among podiatrists, two of the five attending and two of the seven residents are women. By comparison, just 3.9 percent of academy fellows and 13.8 percent of orthopaedic residents are women, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The academy is working to attract more women to the specialty by placing advertisements in medical student publications and sponsoring booths at medical student meetings. “Having more women on our faculty and in our residency allows us to attract the most talented individuals to our specialty, regardless of gender,” said Terry Light, MD, chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation. “Having different perspectives among our faculty, residents and students enriches all of us.” Loyola orthopaedic surgeon Karen Wu, MD, specializes in adult hip and knee reconstructions, which are among the most physically demanding surgeries. But in contrast to the stereotype of the big, brawny orthopaedic surgeon, Wu is just 5 feet 4 and weighs 120 pounds. “I don't have huge muscles,” Dr. Wu said. “But it's not really about brute strength. It’s knowing how to work smart. I have never been in a situation where, physically, I couldn't do something.” Dr. Wu recalls that during her fellowship, she was asked to reduce a dislocated hip in a large woman. Dr. Wu was the first woman to do the Aufranc fellowship in hip and knee reconstruction at New England Baptist Hospital, and her colleagues were curious to see whether a woman was up to the task. Dr. Wu accomplished the reduction on her first attempt. The notion that women lack the strength for orthopaedic surgery is among the reasons why the field traditionally has attracted so few females. But orthopaedic surgeons such as Dr. Wu and her colleague, Teresa Cappello, MD, say they don't have to rely on their muscles. They work with power tools, utilize assistants when needed and focus on proper technique. “If you have to use brute force, you're not doing it the right way,” Dr. Cappello said. Drs. Wu and Cappello are assistant professors in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. A third female orthopaedic surgeon, Erika Mitchell, MD, will join the faculty in November. Dr. Mitchell was recruited from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her special interests include pelvic/acetabular trauma and polytrauma. Dr. Cappello is a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon and her special interests include lower extremity deformities, including clubfeet, leg length discrepancy and hip dysplasia. Dr. Wu decided to become a surgeon because she likes to work with her hands, and her interest in sports led her to orthopaedics. She has participated in several team and individual sports since early childhood, including sailing at the University of Michigan. Dr. Wu was first exposed to orthopaedics at age 13, when she suffered a distal radius fracture while skiing. Many of her friends also had athletic injuries. Dr. Wu said orthopaedics appealed to her “because the goal of the field is to keep people active.” Dr. Wu said her gender never made her feel less welcome at Loyola. She recalled that when she had her first interview with Dr. Light, she was six months’ pregnant. Dr. Light said she could delay her start time to take maternity leave. Dr. Cappello said that from an early age, her father strongly encouraged her to become a physician. She did not hesitate to enter a traditionally male-dominated specialty. “My dad told me I could do anything a boy could do,” Dr. Cappello said. “It never occurred to me that any door would be closed to me because I'm a woman.”

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.