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UAMS is attempting to address the lack of female orthopedic doctors



Little Rock, Arkansas – In an effort to increase the number of women interested in becoming orthopedic surgeons, UAMS is making a significant push.

With less than 10% of all orthopedic surgeons being female, the medical field has one of the lowest female participation rates.

One of only two female doctors working at the UAMS clinic on Shackleford, Dr. Chelsea Mathews is an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at UAMS.

“It definitely raises some flags to people when you say you’re a woman and you want to be involved in orthopedics,” Matthews said “I think we’re working really hard to try and figure out what needs to change and how we can do that.”

According to UAMS, the gender ratios for medical students nationwide are getting close to being 50/50. Only six percent of orthopedic surgeons, according to the institution, are female.

When Mathews initially expressed interest in the profession, she claims she was asked a number of questions.

“Don’t you want to spend time with your kids? Don’t you want to have a husband?” said Mathews.

According to Mathews, the schedule is one reason why many women who are considering this career sector rule it out. Dr. Theresa Wyrick, vice chair of the UAMS Orthopedic Surgery Department, acknowledged understanding this sentiment.

“Surgery is a demanding career,” Wyrick said

Orthopedic surgeon Wyrick is married and has two kids. She claimed she wanted to work as a model to demonstrate that women can have successful careers in this industry.

“Half of our patients are women, and we really want our physicians to look more like patients they treat,” Wyrick said.

Through a weekend lecture, Wyrick claimed she had been attempting for years to persuade young women in high school to pursue a career in orthopedic surgery.

“It’s opening their eyes to a field that they may not have been aware of,” Wyrick said.

Both doctors agreed that there has been a push from national groups to broaden the field’s diversity and that drawing attention to an issue that is getting worse could be the answer to the shortage of female surgeons.

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