As a child, Sonal Mahindroo would go to her orthopaedics appointments for scoliosis treatment, where she received children’s books from her doctor that helped provide clear and simplified explanations of orthopaedic topics, which supported her interest.
Nearly a decade later, Mahindroo is still interested in expanding her orthopaedic knowledge, and a Penn Medicine program is helping fuel that expansion. Now a senior at St. Bonaventure University in New York, Mahindroo spends her time at the university’s lab. But in addition to that, this year, she was able to take part in more learning opportunities with Penn Medicine’s support, via the McKay Orthopaedic Research Lab’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee’s conference grant program.
McKay’s DEI committee—consisting of faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and staff—offers a welcoming environment and resources that support people of all identities, empowering them to bring forward unique perspectives to orthopaedic research.
“Our goal is to improve diversity and culture both within McKay and in the orthopaedic research community outside of Penn,” says Sarah Gullbrand, a research assistant professor at the McKay Lab. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for students to attend a conference and make connections to help them pursue their interest in orthopaedic research.”
The McKay conference grant supports undergraduate students who have been unable to get hands-on research experience. Participants are provided with the opportunity to network with leaders in the field of orthopaedic research, listen to cutting-edge research presentations, and learn about ways to get involved in orthopaedic research themselves.
As a primarily male-populated field, orthopaedics could benefit greatly from diversity efforts. While women comprise approximately 50% of medical school graduates in the United States, they represent only 14% of orthopaedic surgery residents.
“The only women on staff at my orthopaedist’s office were receptionists. There were no female physicians or engineers to make my scoliosis brace,” Mahindroo says. “It was really cool coming to the McKay Lab and seeing how much the field has progressed since then.”
This story is by Julie Wood. Read more at Penn Medicine News.