Hands-on with The Perry Initiative
The Perry Initiative, a national nonprofit organization, encourages young women to pursue engineering and medical careers, through day-long workshops designed to give high school and undergraduate college students an idea of what it's like to be a surgeon or engineer. 
Credit: John Arnold

Despite the fact that a rising number of females now enter medical and graduate school, only 7 percent of today’s practicing orthopedists are women, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

UNM’s Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation is trying to boost that statistic by hosting the nationally renowned Perry Initiative Outreach Program at the UNM Health Sciences Center on Saturday, March 14. UNM Orthopaedics is inviting 40 female high school students, grades 10 and up from throughout New Mexico, who have an interest in engineering, orthopedic surgery or medicine to apply for participation.  

The program, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., is free to qualifying students and provides hands-on “mock surgical” exercises, plus presentations by local female surgeons and engineers. “We are very excited to again host The Perry Initiative at UNM,” says Christina Salas, PhD, a faculty member in the UNM Orthopaedics Research Division.

Salas helped pioneer the Perry Initiative while completing a graduate level rotation in biomechanics at the University of California, San Francisco, in 2009 with Jenni M. Buckley, PhD, one of the program’s creators and executive director. Salas introduced it as a satellite program to UNM Orthopaedics in 2013. Since that time, 80 women have participated in the outreach program at UNM. “This is a wonderful opportunity to help increase the participation of New Mexico females in engineering and orthopaedic surgery careers,” Salas adds.

The Perry Initiative is named in honor of Dr. Jacquelin Perry, one of the nation’s first 10 female orthopedic surgeons. It currently conducts more than 30 outreach programs across the country engaging in excess of 1,000 high school, college and medical students. Each participant receives a complimentary pair of Perry Initiative scrubs, and lunch is provided.

Online applications to attend the Perry Initiative Outreach Program at UNM are now being accepted through Feb. 19, 2015.