Pipeline to Military Orthopaedic Leadership: 20 Years of Race and Gender Diversity Trends Within Military Orthopaedic Surgery Fellowship Training

Miles W.A. Fisher, Morgan Askew, Michael Baird, Sevil Ozdemir, Shaun Williams, Valentina Ramirez, Kelly Kilcoyne, Marvin Dingle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background:The lack of trainees from underrepresented race and gender backgrounds in orthopaedic surgery fellowship training has been well reported in the literature. The purpose of this study was to investigate the demographic trends of federally sponsored military orthopaedic surgery fellows in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. We hypothesize that there has been an increase in women selected for fellowship but that there has been no change in the race demographics of military fellows over the past 2 decades.Methods:A retrospective review of all available demographic data collected by the Army, Air Force, and Navy since the beginning of tracking federally funded fellowship training in orthopaedic surgery was completed (1998-2021). Data were grouped into 4-year periods for analysis to closely mirror the military assignment cycle.Results:Three hundred sixty-two military orthopaedic surgery fellowship board selectees were included in our analysis. The proportion of women fellows increased from 3% (n = 2/69) over 2001 to 2004 to 21% (n = 17/82) during 2017 to 2020 (p < 0.05). Fellows who identified as White comprised 82% (n = 297) of the cohort during the study period. Individuals who identified as Asian were the next highest proportion of fellows at 4% (n = 16), followed by Black (n = 14, 4%) and Hispanic (n = 13, 3%). Individuals who identified as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander represented 1% (n = 3), and an additional 6% (n = 20) fellows identified as "other" or "undeclared." Over the 20-year study period, representation of Asian, Black, Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic fellows did not increase (p = 0.79, 0.81, 0.45, 0.34, respectively).Conclusions:Within military orthopaedics, there has been increased representation of women in fellowship training over the past 20 years. However, the proportion of fellows from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups has remained stagnant. One barrier to improving gender and race representation is the currently imprecise and inconsistent collection of demographic information. Importantly, fellowship training has a direct effect on future leadership opportunities within the military orthopaedic surgery community. A more diverse leadership may help to inspire future generations of military orthopaedic surgeons.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23.00019
JournalJBJS Open Access
Issue number4
StatePublished - 17 Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


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