The Perry Initiative, which encourages young women to pursue careers in orthopedic surgery and engineering, has opened applications for its April 2023 high school outreach event at The University of New Mexico.

“This is our 10th year hosting the program, and each year it is a huge success,” said Christina Salas, an associate professor in the UNM Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“A number of UNM Perry alum have enrolled in our engineering programs and many have worked in my lab as undergrads and grad students,” she said. “This is a terrific pipeline into our educational programs at UNM.”

The April 1 event is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school women who are interested in medicine and engineering – fields that are traditionally male-dominated.

Students perform mock orthopedic surgeries working side by side with female engineers and surgeons, hear short talks from female mentors in both careers, engage in experimental testing of repaired bones just like engineers and observe a cadaveric dissection to learn about human anatomy. They also receive follow-up mentorship from the leadership team. 

Applications to participate may be downloaded using this link.

“This is a somewhat competitive application since we can only accept 40 participants,” Salas said. “So, the students should put some effort into answering the questions on the application with respect to their interest in learning about careers in engineering and medicine.”

Founded in 2009, The Perry Initiative is named in honor of Dr. Jacquelin Perry (1918-2013), who was among the first women certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, as well as a pioneer in the field of gait analysis and post-polio rehabilitation.

Each year, it runs more than 50 one-day outreach programs nationwide and has reached more than 13,000 high school, college and medical students.

“This program is very dear to me as I was fortunate to help create the program while an intern at the University of California, San Francisco, at the start of my Ph.D., and I now serve as co-chair of the advisory board for the national organization,” Salas said.