Status Quo: Trends in Diversity and Unique Traits Among Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Directors

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2021 Jul 1. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-21-00211. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Fellowship directors (FD) in sports medicine are distinguished leaders and mentors of trainees. There is little literature available regarding their demographics and unique factors and training that have allowed them to rise to their prominent positions. The goal of this study was to identify FDs' demographics, research output, and education with an emphasis on surveying the diversity in these leadership positions.

Methods: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Public Accreditation Data System was used to identify all accredited and active orthopaedic sports medicine fellowship positions for 2019 to 2020. Primary data points for the FDs included race/ethnicity, age, sex, residency and fellowship training institutions, year of fellowship completion, year of hire at the current institution, year of FD appointment, and H-index. Student t-tests were used to compare FDs who trained at their current institution versus those who did not. Significance was set at P < 0.05.

Results: The 87 active sports medicine fellowship programs surveyed were led by 86 FDs and 2 co-FDs. One (1.1%) FD was female, whereas 87 (98.9%) were male. The mean age of the 88 total FDs was 54.5 years (n = 81). FDs were predominantly White (n = 75, 85.2%), followed by Asian American (n = 6, 6.8%), African American (n = 3, 3.4%), Middle Eastern (n = 3, 3.4%), and then Hispanic/Latino (n = 1, 1.1%). Certain associations were observed between FDs' residency and fellowship and future leadership positions. The most frequently reported training locations were Hospital for Special Surgery (residency, N = 10) and the Steadman Clinic (Vail) (fellowship, N = 10). The mean H-index was 22.33 ± 16.88, and FDs leading the fellowship where they trained had significantly lower mean H-indices than FDs who were not (12.57 ± 12.57 versus 24.85 ± 17.56, respectively) (P = 0.02).

Conclusion: More diversity is possible among sports medicine FDs, who are prominent leaders. Moreover, certain programs are associated with producing a greater number of FDs.