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Mil Med. 2018 Jan 1;183(1-2):e162-e166. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usx061.

Gender Disparities Within US Army Orthopedic Surgery: A Preliminary Report.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 8901 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20889.



Women account for approximately 15% of the active duty US Army, and studies show that women may be at an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury during sport and military training. Nationally, the field of orthopedic surgery comprises 14% women, lagging behind other surgical fields. Demographics for US Military orthopedic surgeons are not readily available. Similarly, demographic data of graduating medical students entering Military Medicine are not reported. We hypothesize that a gender disparity within military orthopedics will be apparent. We will compare the demographic profile of providers to our patients and hypothesize that the two groups are dissimilar. Secondarily, we examine the demographics of military medical students potentially entering orthopedics from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) or the Health Professions Scholarship Program.


A census was formed of all US Army active duty orthopedic surgeons to include staff surgeons and residents, as well as US Army medical student graduates and orthopedic patients.


There are 252 Army orthopedic surgeons and trainees; 26 (10.3%) are women and 226 (89.7%) are men. There were no significant demographic differences between residents and staff. Between 2014 and 2017, the 672 members of the USUHS graduating classes included 246 Army graduates. Of those, 62 (25%) were female. Army Health Professions Scholarship Program graduated 1,072 medical students, with women comprising 300 (28%) of the group. No statistical trends were seen over the 4 yr at USUHS or in Health Professions Scholarship Program. In total, 2,993 orthopedic clinic visits during the study period were by Army service members, 23.6% were women.


There exists a gender disparity among US Army orthopedic surgeons, similar to that seen in civilian orthopedics. Gender equity is also lacking among medical students who feed into Army graduate medical education programs. The gender profile of our patient population is not reflected by that of providers. Because patients prefer providers of the same gender, this is a limitation to patient satisfaction and access to care for musculoskeletal injuries. Further study is underway to identify perceptions and potential causes of these disparities, including the critical perspective of our patients. In addition to the inherent benefits offered by diversity (e.g., expanding the talent pool and more perspectives for decision-making), ultimately it affords a greater ability to maintain a fit and ready force.


Demographics; Diversity; Female resident; Military; Orthopaedics

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