Perry Initiative with McIntosh

May 20, 2022 / Research & Innovation

Empowering Women To Become Engineers and Surgeons

Article previously published in Rite Up, 2022 – Issue 1.

Sounds of whirring drills, buzzing bone saws and clattering trays of suture and casting materials filled the room at Scottish Rite for Children Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center in Frisco during the recent Perry Outreach Program (POP) course. The daylong course, created by The Perry Initiative, features mentorship as well as hands-on workshops and training designed to introduce young women to aspects of orthopedic surgery and engineering careers, two fields in which women are drastically underrepresented.
Jasmine, former Scottish Rite for Children patient, experienced a light-bulb moment during her POP participation, leading her to study bioinformatics, statistics and biomedical sciences in college. Now a junior at Texas A&M University, Jasmine came back to this year’s POP to help others feel what she felt.
“The empowerment I found through the program encouraged me to continue pursuing my interest in orthopedics rather than being deterred by the underrepresentation of females in the field,” she says. Her POP mentors, Scottish Rite medical director of clinical safety and pediatric orthopedic surgeon Amy L. McIntosh, M.D., along with Kirsten Tulchin-Francis, Ph.D., former division director of Movement Science, led the event in Frisco as local hosts providing guidance and education for 30 young women.
“There are very few women in engineering and orthopedic surgery, so it is essential that young women like these bring their creativity and diversity of thought to these fields,” Tulchin-Francis says. Participants performed mock orthopedic surgeries and conducted biomechanical engineering experiments, while also hearing from prominent women engineers and surgeons in the field.
This course featured suture training on bananas, sawing and drilling synthetic bones and repairing them with plates, screws and surgical devices, and how-tos about applying a cast.
“If I feel intimidated being one of the few females in the field, I remember the joy and empowerment I felt holding that drill,” Jasmine says. “I remind myself daily of the lessons I learned from my mentors to not be afraid to be bold.”
McIntosh encouraged all the young women in attendance. “Be great!” she says. “When you’re the only woman in a room full of men, you shouldn’t try to hide. Instead, use the situation as an opportunity to shine. Be memorable for your hard work, dedication, determination and poise. Speak up with intelligence and confidence.”
“One of my greatest takeaways from the program is to not be afraid to take up the space and make your presence known,” Jasmine says. “You are as deserving to learn as anyone else in the room.” Jasmine was accepted into the Joint Admissions Medical Program (JAMP) in 2021, where she received early provisional acceptance to 11 medical schools in Texas and plans to take the MCAT in April 2022.

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