December 22, 2021

Kate Gerull, MD, PGY-2 has been named the first-ever National Champion of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) National Resident Research Symposia (RRS) for her research about barriers that underrepresented medical students face in pursuing orthopedic careers. She will be presented her trailblazing award this month at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting in Chicago. Dr. Gerull’s research efforts also earned her the Academic Women’s Network Rosalind Kornfeld Student Leadership Award in 2020.


“I am so humbled and grateful to receive the OREF National RSS award for this work. I hope that this award continues to build momentum for the value of diversity, equity and including (DEI) research in academia, and also provides a platform to raise awareness about the issue of social belonging in orthopedics in order to become a more inclusive specialty.” 


About her work

Great research stems from a question being asked or a problem that could be solved. Dr. Gerull identified the lack of diversity in doctors practicing orthopedics to be a problem that should be explored for potential solutions. Dr. Gerull explains, “We know that orthopedic surgery is the least diverse specialty in medicine, and through this research study we hoped to better understand why this is, and how we can improve these statistics. We found that there are stereotypes about orthopedic surgeons, in particular, that orthopedic surgeons are white, male, and athletic. Students derived their sense of belonging in orthopaedic surgery from how closely their identities aligned with these stereotypes about the field. Many students with underrepresented identities ultimately pursued other specialties due to lack of belonging within orthopedics.”


DEI Work in WashU Ortho

At WashU Ortho, we welcome these uncomfortable realities revealed in work like that of Dr. Gerull’s in order confront the issue and create a sense of belonging for all people. “WashU Ortho has been incredibly supportive of my research endeavors in DEI. Regis O’Keefe, MD, PhD, Department Chair, has provided me with incredible mentorship and sponsorship in this area. I am grateful that the department values this work and continues to make DEI a priority. Our program is truly a national example of a department with strong support for DEI research and initiatives. I am so lucky to train at a program where I can learn to become an excellent clinician while also growing my research work in DEI,” remarked Dr. Gerull. In addition to research and department leadership, we are committed to honoring the work of the WashU Ortho DEI committee dedicated to helping us make the department a more inclusive place.


Dr. O’Keefe shares, “Kate is a role model for women in orthopedics and she continues to have a major impact in the school of medicine. I am confident Kate will have an extraordinary impact during her career and will help change the face of orthopedics.”


Learn more about how WashU Ortho is moving the needle in diversity, equity and inclusion. 

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