Austin surgeons aim to show girls a career path in medicine

Orthopedic surgeons Kelly Cline, left, and Barbara Bergin try to come in once a month to share their knowledge of medical science with students in a sports medicine class at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders,

The students in Kristine White’s sports medicine classes at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders are investigating different animal bones and comparing them with the human ones they’ve been studying.

They are learning from two orthopedic surgeons: Dr. Barbara Bergin and Dr. Kelly Cline.

For White, who is also the athletic trainer at the school, bringing in female doctors to her classes has a couple of purposes: She wants her students to be comfortable communicating with doctors, to be able to speak the lingo and tell them exactly what hurts and what happened, and she wants them to see female professionals in the medical field.

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For the doctors, they want more women to consider going into orthopedic surgery. About 6% of all practicing orthopedic surgeons are female and about 15% of orthopedic residents are female, the lowest percentage of females for the top 10 residency specialties, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Orthopedic surgeon Kelly Cline explains some of the bone structure and function during a sports medicine class at the Ann Richards School on April 21.

Serving as mentors

Bergin, a co-founder of Texas Orthopedics, remembers being the only woman when she began her training for orthopedic surgery in 1981.

“If you don’t have women mentors, you don’t see yourself doing that,” she said.

Bergin had intended to be a psychiatrist, but during a rotation he was discovered that she could sew, which translated to being good at sutures.

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