This summer, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Health was honored to host two visiting medical students through the 2019 Nth Dimensions Summer Internship Program. Nth Dimensions is an educational non-profit founded by surgeons to address the dearth of women and underrepresented minorities in medicine. The overarching goal of Nth Dimensions is to address and eliminate healthcare disparities across all communities.
LaTarsha Taylor, a 2nd year medical student at the Medical College of Georgia, and Samantha Okundia, a 2nd year medical student at Touro Osteopathic College of Medicine, spent 8 weeks this summer working with our local Nth Dimensions preceptor, Dr. Holly Pilson. They logged a combined total of 133 hrs in the operating room, 42 hrs in the clinic and 300 hrs in the research lab being immersed in the life of an orthopaedic surgeon. Additionally, LaTarsha and Samantha completed a combined total of 42 volunteer hours working with the Wake Forest Summer Immersion Program in Sports Medicine and at the Juneteenth health fair.
To conclude their summer, LaTarsha and Samantha presented their research done during their time in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Health at the National Medical Association Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“My experience at Wake Forest Baptist Health was filled with incredible learning opportunities and personal growth. One of my biggest takeaways is that success as an orthopedic surgeon requires intense determination, grit, patience, and a love for learning. Orthopedics is not easy by any means, but excellence within this field is attainable for anyone who is willing to dig deep and put in the work.
I began my summer internship somewhat intimidated by orthopedics, as I was aware of the lack of minorities and women in this field. I am thankful that I spent my summer under the instruction of Dr. Pilson. Scrubbing in on surgical cases and spending time in the clinic with Dr. Pilson showed me that orthopedic surgeons don’t have to fit a certain mold. My time at Wake Forest and my experiences with Dr. Pilson have improved my confidence and helped mentally prepare me for the journey towards becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Pilson is an outstanding mentor and teacher, both in clinic and in the OR. The same patience and thoroughness that she granted to me during my internship, she also gave to each of her patients regarding their healthcare. In my opinion, Dr. Pilson is a modern-day superwoman, and she has shown me that with hard work, dedication, and support, I can one day be an orthopedic surgeon and excel in this specialty.” – LaTarsha Taylor
“My experience as an Nth Dimensions Orthopaedic Surgery Summer Intern was truly transformative. I believe the power of mentorship lies in the safe space it provides for mentees to grow both personally and professionally. Dr Pilson and Dr. Dawkins did an amazing job of creating this environment for me.
As a black, female, Osteopathic Medical Student, I don’t fit the traditional mold of the type of future physician people expect to see in the field of Orthopaedics. On several occasions I would scrub into a case with Dr Pilson and an all-female team of Physicians, Residents, Scrub Technicians and Nurses. Experiencing this level of diversity has empowered my contributions to helping break that mold. This summer Dr Pilson taught me so much about the basic skills and aptitudes needed in the field of Orthopaedic Surgery including how to read and present X-rays, suture wounds, splint fractures, as well as how to critically read research articles. Dr. Pilson is an excellent leader and teacher and it was important for me to see these skills serve her in the OR with her team as well as in the clinic with her patients. She is intuitive about each patient’s specific needs and makes her patients feel included and well informed about their care. These sorts of insights will inform the kind of future Orthopaedic surgeon I become.
This summer I cultivated lasting relationships with people who are committed to changing the face of diversity in Orthopaedics through mentorship. It is such a privilege to know and learn from them. The insights they shared let me know that with diligence and dedication, this field is within my reach.
Thanks to Nth Dimensions and Dr. Pilson, the best part of my summer was confidently envisioning myself as an Orthopaedic Surgeon in a few years. Now, I just can’t “unsee” it and I look forward to being able to pay that forward someday.” –Samantha Okundia
Learn more about Nth Dimensions and their mission, programs and opportunities.