The Carl L. Nelson, M.D. Award for the Advancement of Women in Orthopaedics


The Carl L. Nelson, M.D. Award for the Advancement of Women in Orthopaedics honors academic orthopaedic surgery departments across the country that are gaining ground on advancing women in the field through sustained efforts to increase gender diversity and foster an environment that supports the growth and development of female students, residents, and faculty—both within their academic institutions and more broadly in the community. Recipients may demonstrate this commitment across a range of initiatives and practices that foster gender diversity and promote an inclusive learning and working environment that nurtures the growth and development of female students, residents, fellows, faculty, and academic leaders on campus and in the community.

Orthopaedic surgery is one of the fastest growing surgical specialties, yet women make up less than 14 percent of residents in orthopaedic surgery—the lowest ratio of any residency program—and represent just five percent of practicing orthopaedic surgeons today. Establishing this award provides the opportunity to recognize those departments that have distinguished themselves through their dedicated efforts to improve these statistics. We believe that this type of commitment within orthopaedic surgery can play an important role in improving diversity and inclusion across all specialties and practice settings in medicine.

carl nelson, md

Carl L. Nelson, M.D.

This award is named in honor of the late Carl L. Nelson, M.D., a world-renowned orthopaedic surgeon and expert in joint replacement surgery, who served as the chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) from 1974 until his death in 2005.  Expertise, leadership, and innovation have long defined Dr. Nelson’s distinguished career in academic medicine—a career marked by honor and achievements, esteemed recognition, and exemplary scholarly activity.  But his track record for success didn’t end there.  He was also a teacher, mentor, and advocate who recognized the need for a ‘paradigm shift’—a term he loved to use—to advance the education and careers of women in orthopaedics. His commitment brought recognition to women in the field and positively influenced the lives of female students, residents, and young physicians pursuing careers in orthopaedic surgery.  This award was created to recognize those departments, who, by their commitment, have specifically promoted the advancement of women in orthopaedics.

Award Criteria and Selection

Recognized academic orthopaedic surgery departments across the United States that have an ACGME-accredited orthopaedic surgery residency program are invited to self-nominate for this award. Nominations will be accepted through August 1, 2021.

Each nomination will be evaluated on the department’s efforts to increase, promote, and support the advancement of women in orthopaedics. These efforts may include:

  • Activities to promote and advance the recruitment, retention, and upward mobility of women within the department or institution
  • Participation in research activities or projects related to gender diversity
  • Formal and informal activities to recruit, mentor, and/or support female students and residents/fellows within the department or institution
  • Formal and informal activities to recruit, mentor, and/or support girls and/or women independent of the institution, including community outreach efforts
  • Participation in activities and/or membership in established professional organizations dedicated to the advancement of women
  • Web-based content and/or use of interactive platforms, such as social media, videos, blogs, or other online platforms to promote, support, and advance women in orthopaedics

Nominations will also be evaluated on the approach and the impact of the efforts to date. Examples include:

  • Evidence of success or progress in achieving the goals of the nominee’s efforts, such as department/institution data
  • Shared personal experiences or testimonials from students, residents/fellows, or faculty members who benefited from the nominee’s activities
  • Applicability of the nominee’s efforts across other orthopaedic departments, programs, specialties, or institutions
  • Internal or external recognition or publicity related to the nominee’s activities
  • Publication(s) references

The award selection committee, comprised of organizational leaders dedicated to the advancement of women in orthopaedics, will engage in a review of the submitted nominations and make their selection for this year’s award recipient. The announcement of this year’s recipient will coincide with the AAOS Annual Meeting held August 31 – September 3, 2021. The department will be publicly recognized for its achievement in a press release and receive a specially-designed commemorative award for display.

Nomination Process

To submit a nomination, please click the button below and complete the online nomination form.

Be sure to hit the “submit” button at the end of the form. Upon submission, you will see a screen confirming your nomination, and you will receive a confirmation email of your submission.

If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact Jennifer Gurley at

To download and/or print the nomination form, click here.