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This year, UNC Department of Orthopaedics is pleased to host two medical student scholars selected by UNC programs that address and close gaps in racial and gender disparities in medical practice.  In fall 2022, the Department will host its first University of North Carolina Department of Orthopaedics Scholarship for Under-Represented Minority Medical Students scholar — University of Wisconsin fourth-year medical student (M4) Jonelle Campbell. In summer 2022, UNC Orthopaedics hosts its first Mauricio Castillo, MD Diversity and Inclusion Scholars Program scholar — rising second-year (M2) UNC School of Medicine medical student Scott Giberson. Both programs extend to under-represented minority (URM) student scholars educational, research, and mentorship opportunities in a specialty of interest for residency training and future practice.

The Orthopaedics Scholarship for Under-Represented Minority Medical Students was developed to provide M4 student scholars a four-week enrichment experience within UNC Orthopaedics to explore the field guided by faculty, fellow and resident mentors. Both UNC and visiting M4s are eligible, and a $1,500 scholarship stipend is provided to offset expenses.

Over four weeks (October to November) in fall 2022, visiting M4 Jonelle Campbell will return to the Department to continue her learning in OR and didactic environments that proved greatly enriching during her first exposure to UNC Orthopaedics during a M3 clinical elective.

Jonelle noted: “When I rotated on the orthopaedic service at MCW, I realized my love for the OR and my interest in the MSK pathology seen on the service. I also got to see the positive impact surgeries had in our patients’ lives. I feel a sense of community in the field of orthopaedic surgery, and every faculty and resident I have reached out to, whether at my home institution or elsewhere, has been open and willing to give me advice or answer any questions I have about applying to the field. I have felt welcomed and supported by the orthopedic surgeons I have had the pleasure of interacting with and know I will have the support I need as I continue my journey to becoming an orthopedic surgeon.”

In its second year, the Castillo Scholars Program has grown to 14 UNC School of Medicine (SOM) specialties that are host to an equivalent number of rising M2 student scholars. Over eight summer weeks, host departments provide immersive opportunities for scholars to experience patient care, research, didactics and other areas that define the specialty.  Each Castillo scholar receives a $5000 stipend to offset program expenses tied to program participation.

In early June 2022, rising UNC M2 Scott Giberson and fellow Castillo Scholars Program scholars began their eight-week program exploring enrichment and mentoring activities in their specialties of focus. From faculty to residents, UNC Orthopaedics welcomed back to the Department the enthusiastic UNC SOM medical student who during his first year had sought out opportunities in the Department of Orthopaedics for exposure to learning more about the specialty he most wanted to pursue.

“The Department made it incredibly easy to pick up where I left off as an [M1]. During my first year of medical school, the encouragement of UNC Orthopaedics faculty and residents to explore the field at a deeper level solidified my interest in orthopaedic surgery. It’s nice to return to where I left off with excellent mentors who are invested in my education and push me toward opportunities to pursue this field.

It’s no secret that many fields in medicine, including orthopaedic surgery, are lagging in terms of diversity. The Castillo Scholars Program separated itself from other summer scholarships I was exploring because the program addresses diversity in a meaningful way.  Beyond its URM perspective, this program offers blended clinical and research opportunities in a way that most other programs don’t.  If I want to spend my summer in the clinic, the OR, or working with data, I have the opportunity to work in all of those areas every week during my program.”

UNC Orthopaedics Diversity Liaison Dr. Megan Patterson is an advocate of scholarship programs designed for URM medical students who face lack of diversity in medicine overall, and within the specialties they want to pursue. She noted:

“We recognize that improving diversity in orthopaedics requires active mentorship and sponsorship of minority medical students.  As we move into a new academic year, the department is excited to participate in programs both at the departmental level — University of North Carolina Department of Orthopaedics Scholarship for Under-Represented Minority Medical Students — as well as in partnership with UNC School of Medicine — Mauricio Castillo, MD Diversity and Inclusion Scholars Program — which support minority medical students interested in orthopaedics.“

PHOTOs (L to R): Jonelle Hart, Scott Giberson