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College of Medicine

March 19, 2020

Orthopaedics Scholarship Encourages Student Diversity

C. Lowry Barnes, M.D., chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, examines an x-ray.

C. Lowry Barnes, M.D., chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, examines an x-ray image.

By Spencer Watson
March 19, 2020 – The UAMS College of Medicine has established a scholarship to recruit underrepresented minority students to its orthopaedics program, one of only a handful of medical schools in the country to do so.
The scholarship provides financial support to encourage fourth-year minority students outside of UAMS to apply for a four-week visiting student rotation in orthopaedic surgery. The exposure to UAMS should improve the chances more will apply for a residency after graduation.

Corey Montgomery, M.D.

Corey Montgomery, M.D.

“Multiple studies have shown that diversity in the health care workforce leads to better patient outcomes,” said Corey O. Montgomery, M.D., director of student clerkships, who co-authored a study indicating that orthopaedic surgery lags behind other subspecialties nationally in its recruitment of minority students. “This program is one tool we can use to help achieve that goal.”

The scholarship is the result of the 2019 UAMS Day of Giving project by the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. The drive raised nearly $8,500, which was matched by UAMS orthopaedic surgeon John Vander Schilden, M.D., for a total of nearly $17,000, which will fund up to five scholarships.

“The way we improve diversity in our field is through medical students,” said Montgomery. “We know that diversity is important, and the way we show that is by addressing this disparity in orthopaedic surgery.”

Visiting medical students typically must pay for their own travel and lodging costs during a four-week away rotation. Historically, many students who choose an away rotation at UAMS ultimately apply for residency here after graduation. The scholarship should make a rotation more appealing to students and broaden the diversity in the pool of future applicants for residency.

John Vander Schilden, M.D.

John Vander Schilden, M.D.

Of 23 current orthopaedic surgery residents at UAMS, five are female and one is from an underrepresented racial minority.

Montgomery noted that not only are racial and gender parity important, but also geographic and socioeconomic diversity as well. For instance, having been raised on a farm, he finds he relates to rural patients who grew up in farming communities.

“It may seem like a small thing, but there’s a certain nuance to conversation, and you’d be amazed how they can relate to me,” he said. “That’s important, because patients often feel they can’t relate to their doctors. But if I can relate to a patient, I can offer them better care and that translates into better outcomes.”

The first scholarships will be awarded later this month.