Beaumont hosts education program encouraging girls to consider careers in medicine


Perry Initiative: Inspiring women to become leaders in orthopedic surgery and engineering

What can a young lady do with a power drill? Plenty, thanks to a free, national education program developed to encourage and inspire young women to pursue a career in orthopedic surgery and engineering. Two high school students, Anna Treppa, 16, from Huntington Woods and Renee Odom, 16, from Taylor, teamed up to learn about knee ligament repairs - ACL/MCL through a lab exercise.  The program took place Saturday, Jan. 17 at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

  Anna Treppa (left), Berkley H.S. and Renee Odom, Divine Child H.S.

The Perry Initiative partners with medical centers, like Beaumont Health System, universities and high schools to host Perry Outreach Programs for young women in high school and college. These day-long programs are held at different locations nationwide throughout the year. Participants perform mock orthopedic surgeries and conduct biomechanical engineering experiments, while also hearing from prominent female engineers and surgeons in the field.

Two such role models, Rachel Rohde, M.D., orthopedic hand surgeon, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak and Erin Baker, research engineer with Beaumont’s Department of Orthopaedic Research, enjoy sharing and helping these young women learn about new career options.

“It’s a great program. I didn’t have those opportunities,” explains Baker. “In fact, in high school, I didn’t know what engineering was. It definitely provides these young women with unique hands-on experiences.”

Amazingly, few women are orthopedic surgeons. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons only 1 in 20 surgeons are women.

“This is the fourth year Beaumont, Royal Oak, Dr. Rachel Rohde and I have hosted the Perry Initiative in the Marcia and Eugene Applebaum Simulation Learning Institute, “ says Baker. “The Perry team also added a session this year to accommodate college undergrads. Attendance was excellent with 10 college students on Friday and 41 area high school students on Saturday.”

You’d think by looking around the lab that DeWalt power tools was a sponsor, when in fact it was Michigan-based Stryker, an international medical devices and equipment manufacturer.

Ten engineers from Stryker came from New Jersey to participate in the two programs at Beaumont.

Adds Baker, “The undergraduate students learned about three options or pathways available to them with an engineering degree: medical school, health care industry engineers or research engineers, like myself.”

Jenni Buckley, executive director, Perry Initiative, told the Detroit Free Press, “We know that women are performing very highly in high school and in college in sciences, engineering and math, but they’re not choosing to go into the fields that most need them.”

Baker says plans are already underway for next year’s fifth Perry Initiative program at Beaumont, Royal Oak. For more information, including the student application/selection process, visit the program’s Web site –