On July 26, 2020, a group of Black women orthopaedic surgeons held a virtual call. The purpose of the call was simple- to empower each other as Black Women, celebrate accomplishments, and “check-in.” Black women faced unique challenges in 2020. Tension and unrest reached a boiling point. The Coronavirus pandemic further compounded longstanding racial health inequities and social injustice.
Black women are rare (0.6%) in the field of orthopaedic surgery in the United States. The 2018 AAOS Orthopaedic Census Survey reports that over 30,000 orthopaedic surgeons in the United States are overwhelmingly male (94%) and white (85%). As part of the 0.6%, Black Women lacked a space to celebrate & discuss their experiences in orthopaedic surgery. The July 2020 virtual call provided that important space for Black women. The result – the formation of the non-profit organization Black Women Orthopaedic Surgeons (BWOS).
The History of Black Women in Orthopedic Surgery
Dr. Claudia L. Thomas was the first board-certified Black female orthopaedic surgeon in the United States in 1982. Dr. Thomas attended Vassar College, and graduated with a degree in Black Studies. Following medical school at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Thomas entered residency at the Yale Orthorpaedic Program. After completing her traumas fellowship, Dr. Thomas entered the faculty practice at Johns Hopkins University. To learn more about Dr. Thomas we recommend her book God Spare Life.
The First Black Women Orthopaedic Surgeons in the United States
The Mission of Black Women Orthopaedic Surgeons is to Support and Empower Black Women Orthopaedic Surgeons through Mentoring, Activism, and Education while Advocating for Health Equity