Wayne O. Southwick, MD was the first chairperson of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine from 1958 – 1979. Southwick was a pioneer in developing several surgical techniques at Yale where he was also a vocal advocate for diversity within the specialty of orthopaedics, a tradition the department continues to build on today.
The Southwick Society was founded in the Fall of 2022 to support the continuing advancement of musculoskeletal education for medical students and is taught by the department’s faculty and residents. Students who join will receive mentorship opportunities, clinical education, and tactile exercises to prepare them for a future career in orthopaedic surgery.
“I wanted to help create an interest group that I wish I had as a medical student,” said resident coordinator, Alana Munger, MD PGY5. “Medical students usually do not learn about bone healing or types of plate fixation until their intern year. Most medical schools do not have a robust musculoskeletal education program in their curriculum. For the few that do, even fewer have orthopaedic-specific education embedded within it.”
For Munger and others who were behind the creation of The Southwick Society, there were opportunities to be found within those challenges. “Through this effort, we will be able to reach out to and work alongside interested medical students during their first and second years. This will give them ample time to prepare their applications for the orthopaedics residency match, which is arguably one of the most competitive specialties in medicine.”
Student coordinator and current medical student, Arielle Richey Levine, MS, agrees. “As someone who aims to match into orthopaedics, it can feel very daunting at times. It is such an extremely competitive, complex, and fascinating specialty,” Richey Levine said. “By creating The Southwick Society, we are aiming to make it much more accessible for students to work alongside department faculty and residents, build relationships, and start to learn about basic orthopaedic knowledge early in the medical school journey.”
Students who join will benefit from a range of orthopaedic opportunities, which includes being introduced to the eight different subspecialties, reviewing research publications, and laying inroads to the world of global health. In doing so, participants will gain tangible skillsets that can be applied to research endeavors, clinical rotations, and their future medical practice whether they pursue orthopaedics or not. Musculoskeletal complaints are also increasingly among the most common reasons that patients contact their physicians, so any opportunity to learn more about this specialty will clinically benefit the doctors of tomorrow.
Members of The Southwick Society are working collaboratively to integrate educational and technical opportunities, which are led by residents and department faculty, to foster the musculoskeletal growth of Yale’s medical students along with those in the physician assistant program. The group hopes to eventually help guide students through the entire process of entering into orthopaedics from the first year of medical school, to the first year of residency, and beyond.
According to Munger, residents will be the primary role models within the Society. “Not only are we leading the medical students through seminars, but we are connecting them with shadowing opportunities, research projects, and much more,” she said. “Medicine requires interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork at all levels. I would not be in the position I am today without the advice and mentorship of so many other residents. I believe it is our responsibility to pay it forward and mentor future generations of orthopaedic surgeons for the collective benefit of our field.”
“I would encourage other medical students considering orthopaedics to explore all the opportunities that Yale School of Medicine has to offer, which includes The Southwick Society. Medical students should investigate clinical shadowing opportunities, get involved in research, as well as build connections with other students, residents, fellows, and attendings,” Richey Levine added. “Our hope is that this will be a natural evolution of the traditional medical student interest group, which creates collegial, inclusive, and collaborative opportunities that are both unique and expansive.”
More information about The Southwick Society can be viewed here.