Greenwich Academy Students introduced to Orthopedic Medicine through “Women in Medicine” Program
Posted On: Wednesday, January 09, 2013

GA Student knee ONS Foundation education initiative encourages female students to consider career in orthopedics    

On December 10th fifteen students from Greenwich  Academy visited the ONS Foundation for a unique introduction to medicine led by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Katie Vadasdi. The program consisted of a series of talks, demonstrations and hands-on labs for the young women, including an ultrasound demonstration, a physical therapy lecture and clinic tour, MRI review, as well as a hands-on arthroscopic surgery demonstration- all aimed at providing the experience of diagnosing and treating patients with musculoskeletal injuries or conditions. Dr. Vadasdi, who is in practice with Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists and on staff at Greenwich Hospital, was assisted by physiatrist Tamar Kessel, MD, hand specialist Mark Vitale, MD and physical therapist Alicia Hirscht.

The ONS Foundation offers programs for medical professionals as well as for students beginning in high school. Since opening an arthroscopic research lab at their site on Valley Drive in Greenwich, the ONS Foundation has hosted numerous training and research sessions for locals as well as physicians from as far away as Germany and China.  GA Ultrasound

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, women account for less than half of all applicants and enrollees in medical schools and they make up about 35 percent of medical residents. When it comes to orthopedics however, less than 10% of medical students choose to specialize in orthopedic surgery. “The reasons for this are complex but one big factor is the lack of adequate role models for young women,” says Dr. Vadasdi. “Mentoring is key to drawing more young women into many areas of specialized medicine, especially orthopedics.” GA Hirscht PT GA Vitale lab

“Inspiring and mentoring high school and college students toward a career in medicine is part of the education initiative of the ONS Foundation,” said Foundation President Paul Sethi, MD.  “It is the aim of the Foundation to serve both the immediate Fairfield County community and the broader field of medicine.”

“I loved the hands-on aspect of the visit,” commented one of the Greenwich Academy students. “Being able to do the ultrasound myself and perform a mock knee surgery was the coolest thing ever. Even though it was a model, I really felt like I was actually looking inside a knee! One of the {best} parts was Dr. Vadasi’s video in her powerpoint of the real shoulder surgery {where we saw} the clamp grabbing hold of the tendon, using the anchor, and tying the strings.”

GA Students shoulder Dr. Vadasdi, who is fellowship-trained in shoulder surgery and sports medicine, was the first female orthopedic surgeon on staff at Greenwich Hospital. A graduate of Dartmouth Medical School, she did her residency at the Hospital for Special Surgery and her fellowship training at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. Her other passions for family and sports were  also topics of conversation for the visiting students, who were relieved to know that it’s possible to have a career in medicine – and have a life and other interests in addition to being a doctor.

“It is so important for the girls to not only understand the work but also to envision themselves working and learning in a medical practice environment,” said Ann Decker, Greenwich Academy Director, Duff Center for STEM Initiatives. “Working with the actual surgical tools, ultrasound machine and other equipment in the teaching lab made a huge impact.  The significance of interaction with Dr. Vadasdi and her colleagues as role models cannot be overstated. Students respond to people who are engaged with them.” GA Students lab

“When I was a senior in high school in Massachusetts, I had the opportunity to do an internship with an orthopedic surgeon,” recalled Dr. Vadasdi. “In college I interned at Boston Children’s Hospital. These experiences stimulated my interest in learning about the musculoskeletal system. Despite a lack of female mentors in the field, I studied under a lot of wonderful people who encouraged me to follow my gut.”