University Orthopedics, Lincoln School Partnership Aimed at Bridging Orthopedics Gender Gap

Despite efforts to boost the number of women in the field of orthopedics, the gender disparity in the specialty continues to be one of the largest in the medical profession. In an effort to change that, University Orthopedics is partnering with Lincoln School in Providence to expose more young women to the profession.


University Orthopedics physicians this month began a program called “Orthopaedics in Action” for students in grades 9-12 from Lincoln School and Providence’s The Met High School. The program is a unique, hands-on curriculum for STEAM classrooms, featuring real-world challenges from orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering. The Perry Initiative – an organization dedicated to building a pipeline for women in engineering and medicine – developed the curriculum. 

Lincoln School junior Anabel Schiller, the 17-year-old daughter of UOI pediatric orthopedic surgeon Jonathan Schiller, MD, spearheaded efforts to bring the program to her school.


“It is so essential for women to be able to see people who look like them in healthcare. If there are only men in the field, why would a girl ever believe she could become an orthopedic surgeon? In making this program available here, I wanted to be able to give girls in my area the chance to see that it is possible to become a surgeon and pursue exciting opportunities in the medical field,” Anabel said. 


In addition to the six classes from “Orthopaedics in Action,” the program will also include two additional sessions curated by UOI physicians – Intro to Orthopedics and Women in Orthopedics.


“This is a win-win for both groups,” said UOI orthopedic hand surgeon Julia Katarincic, MD.  “The students get to see a career opportunity they may never have thought of. And for females in orthopedics – who may not have had role models coming up as residents, fellows and young attendings – this is our chance to pay it forward.”  


Orthopedics is the branch of surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system including injuries and other issues of the arms, hands, legs, feet, pelvis, and spine. Dr. Katarincic, Dr. Schiller and UOI hand surgeon Vanessa Lund, MD will be among the instructors for the 8-week program, which will include instructional lectures, hands-on orthopedic challenges, and discussion/written work.


“The most recent statistics say that only 7.4% of orthopedic surgeons are women. The best ways to fight this lack of gender diversity in orthopedics are pipeline programs like the Perry Initiative. These excellent programs expose young women to orthopedics and other male-dominated fields at an early age to spark an interest in the topics, and also provide women with support and mentorship if they are interested in pursuing these fields,” Dr. Lund said. “A career in orthopedics is a great choice for individuals of any gender, and the field of orthopedics and its patients will benefit from a more diverse workforce of orthopedic surgeons.”


During the program, the students will investigate knee anatomy and function, designing and repairing injuries, and diagnosing scoliosis and bone fractures. Geometry, anatomy, experimental design, physics, hypothesis testing, and interpreting experimental data are some core concepts covered in the innovative curriculum.


“Lincoln School is committed to supporting the growth and development of women in the STEAM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Architecture, and Mathematics). Women are historically underrepresented in orthopedic medicine; we hope that exposure through this program will increase interest and aptitude for further study, not just for our students but students in the broader Providence community,” said Sophie Lau, Head of School at Lincoln School.

Julia Katarincic, MD

Julia Ann Katarincic, MD, specializes in care of the hand and microvascular surgery for children and adults. Her chief areas of clinical practice interest include arthritis of the hand, congenital hand anomalies, microsurgery, brachial plexus injuries, and peripheral nerve injuries.

Vanessa Lund, MD

Dr. Vanessa Lund is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship-trained hand and upper extremity specialist. manage most conditions of the hand and arm below the shoulder, including fractures and sprains, arthritis, nerve compression, and overuse injuries.

Jonathan Schiller, MD

Dr. Schiller specializes in pediatric orthopedics, specifically in the treatment of pediatric fracture care, limb deformity and lengthening, scoliosis, and adolescent and young adult hip problems. Dr. Schiller also specializes in hip arthroscopy and hip preservation.