High schoolers get hands-on experience in orthopedics and engineering

[anvplayer video=”5170712″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Some teenagers got the chance to learn about a medical specialty in a hands-on experience with some of the state’s experts guiding them.

These doctors want young girls to help break boundaries in the field of orthopedics.

“We host a one-day activity where we invite high school females from all around the state,” said Dr. Christina Salas, an associate professor at the UNM Department of Orthopedics. “They are actually performing mock surgeries using the actual synthetic bones that are used by our orthopedic residents who are in training.”

The program is called the “Perry Initiative.” It’s a national program with the goal of creating a pipeline for women looking to get into orthopedic surgery and engineering.   

The specialty that helps to fix up people’s bones, joints, and muscles.

“Women are extremely underrepresented in both orthopedic surgery and in engineering, specifically mechanical engineering,” said Salas. 

According to a journal published in the National Library of Medicine, only 7.4% of orthopedic surgeons are women as of 2022.

Seeing nearly 40 young women in this class sticks out to the high schoolers themselves.  

“I’m very excited because there’s other people that want to do the same things as me, and it’s like women, so it feels very empowering and great to be here,” said Alondra Aguilere, a high school junior. 

Hosting this event for young women also reminds Salas about her experience studying mechanical engineering.  

“When I was coming through my undergraduate degree, I was one of only two females who graduated with a class of like, 50 or so from my college,” Salas said. 

Giving hands-on opportunities to learn in this kind of environment can even open up opportunities in the future.

“I’ve had students who’ve actually not only completed our high school program, but ended up coming to UNM to do an undergraduate engineering degree, and then ended up working in my lab as either a research assistant,” said Salas.