UBC Department of Orthopaedics Establishes Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group

What is this new group?

The UBC Department of Orthopaedics seeks to create respectful, diverse, inclusive learning and working environments that are anti-racist and support the exercise of human rights for all members of our community.

An equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) working group was established in 2021 to provide leadership across the department in the areas of anti-racism and anti-discrimination for all.

The EDI working group will lead the department in evaluating department’s strengths and weaknesses in equity, diversity and inclusion and propose actions that will lead to systemic and behavioural change.

What’s the primary purpose of this EDI working group?

In the first year, the EDI working group will gather information and perspectives from members of the department and present its findings and recommendations for a more equitable, diverse and inclusive working space. This includes four key tasks:

1. Create evaluation tools to collect information on EDI within our department and gather your perspectives

  • Online survey
  • Focus-group sessions

2. Promote the importance of assessing EDI and raising awareness within the department

  • Grand rounds
  • Half-day resident workshops
  • Other

3. Implement the EDI evaluation tools and generate reports   

  • Online survey
  • Focus-group sessions

4. Analyze findings and create a recommendations report

  • Present what is and is not working
  • Present new ideas and practices for our department to try

What can you do?

As a member of the UBC Department of Orthopaedics, there are a number of things you can do.

  • Consider what it means to practice EDI within department
  • Get involved with projects in your community that enhance EDI for all levels of orthopaedics
  • Tell us your idea for EDI or get involved! Reach out to any of the co-leads or members of the UBC Orthopaedics EDI working group

Members of the UBC Orthopaedics EDI Working Group

Co-Leads of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group

Photo: Dr. Bonita Sawatzky

Bonita Sawatzky, Ph.D

Associate Professor & Co-Lead, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Why I’m involved

I got involved because of the support and leadership I experienced from some members of this department who were champions of EDI over 25 years ago.

I was a graduate student in biomechanics working in the Paediatrics Orthopaedics Division under Dr. Stephen Tredwell as a research assistant. Dr. Tredwell was instrumental in me continuing to pursue my PhD following my master’s degree. The year I was to begin my PhD, I was involved a terrible car accident that led me to needing wheelchair for daily living.

Dr. Tredwell adapted. He made it possible for me to successfully continue my studies, and he arranged a faculty position once I finished. Being a woman faculty member in all-male department was one thing—but also beginning a woman with a significant disability was something else.

His support—and the support of many others within the department, such as Drs. Richard Beauchamp, Bassam Masri, and Thomas Oxland, who have encouraged me throughout my career—has demonstrated already that inclusion is possible.

The support I received by EDI champions during the past 25 years, propels me to want to be a champion for others. Sure, we have some ways to go in our department; however, some roads have already been paved. I want to help elevate our EDI game within the UBC Department of Orthopaedics. And, I encourage others to do the same.

Dr. Andrea (Andie) Veljkovic

Clinical Associate Professor & Co-Lead, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Why I’m involved

Appreciating diversity and ethnicity is paramount in this new age of orthopaedics. In the past, biases originating from perceptions of different races, genders, and orientations have resulted in jobs and promotions going to those who are most similar the evaluator or promoter. The key is to remove biases from individuals and promote human beings based solely on merit. This is easier said than done.

In my case, my decisions to promote or nurture human beings are minimally based on biases resulting from EDI. Even as a child, I was fairly unaware of the differences in race, gender and orientation. This may be because I had the privilege to be mentored at a young age by two strong female role models: one was my grandmother and a diplomat, and the other was my mother who was Research General of the National Council of BC.

Both endlessly taught me that who you are is important—not what you are—and that all people are equal based on gender, race, and orientation. They also taught me that only those individuals who misbehave or have a poor moral compass are of inferior standing, no matter their gender, race, or orientation.

As such, I prefer to call myself Andie and don’t seek to be defined by pronouns, although I greatly respect those who do. By definition, my name is ambiguous as one cannot tell easily my sex, race, or orientation. I prefer them to see me as me.

With the above in mind, I have been very lucky to have had some incredible mentors from different genders, races, and orientations. They have helped nurture me as a human. That being said, of course I have felt bias because of my gender in the past, but I chose to make it a strength rather than barrier. It would have been nice to be in a world where I did not have to do that. As a result of how much my mentors meant to me, I spend a great deal of my time nurturing and mentoring younger colleagues so that they can rise to their highest potential. This includes my diverse group of clinical fellows from every race, gender, and orientation. I also sit on the medical board of Steps2Walk, an organization that helps educate surgeons of varied races, genders, and orientations across the world on foot and ankle care and then continues to mentor these surgeons to help patients from every socioeconomic class equally.

Dr. Tym Frank

Clinical Assistant Professor& Co-Lead, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Why I’m involved

When Dr. Kishore Mulpuri reached out to me to consider getting involved in the new EDI working group, I immediately jumped at this unique opportunity. 

Growing up, I was fortunate to have a father who was an inspirational role model in both career and life. He was an orthopaedic surgeon, scientist, leader, and mentor to many. He recognized and brought out excellence in the people around him.  My father always impressed upon me the fair and respectful treatment of all people regardless of demographics or background. 

I became interested in EDI recently while working with our residents when I was made aware of some obstacles they were facing, which were not immediately apparent. I am relatively new in my career and am thankful for the opportunities afforded to me by training at UBC, and I want to be part of our culture of EDI moving forward.  I think that the UBC Department of Orthopaedics is well poised to be a leader in EDI, and I am excited to be a part of the process.

Members of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group

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