Tomorrow, these young women will change the fields of orthopaedic surgery and engineering. But today, they’re learning the basics with drills, plastic bones, sutures, and bananas.
During the fall semester, the Perry Initiative, an organization that provides hands-on experience and mentorship support for women entering orthopaedic surgery and engineering, partnered with the University of Minnesota Medical School and the Health Sciences Library to host two outreach programs for local high schoolers and medical students.
Dr. Ann Van Heest, a professor and vice chair of orthopaedic surgery education and Perry Initiative board member, has helped bring these outreach programs to the U of M for the past nine years.
This year brought in the highest number of attendees, with over 25 participants for both the medical school outreach program – open to all medical students in the area, not just those in the U of M Medical School – and the Perry outreach program for high school students.
The Makerspace in the Health Science Library opened its doors for the Perry Initiative and provided a space for mock surgeries, where students learned how to handle femur fracture repairs, apply casts for a broken arm, and perform fundamental stitching techniques.
“The Makerspace is an ideal space for this event,” said Erin Tuset, a course coordinator for the department of orthopedic surgery. “So bright, inviting, and evokes creativity.”
There was plenty of room for volunteers and students to move around, and the adjustable tables were perfect for each activity. And the Makerspace was practically designed for making messes and easily cleaning them up, Tuset explained.
“Working with the Libraries team was smooth and enjoyable,” she said. “They went above and beyond!”
Mary Kate Evans, a bioengineering doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and a Perry Initiative Fellow, agreed that the Makerspace was well-suited for the outreach programs.
Evans joined the Perry Initiative three years ago because she wanted to share her passion for medical science with other young women and encourage them to follow their own passions in engineering and medicine.
She believes Perry’s outreach programs are important for young women in orthopaedic surgery and engineering, two fields in which women are vastly underrepresented.
“Learning about these careers and meeting women that have pursued them is a critical component to expanding female representation in these fields,” Evans said.