BHOC Womens Day hero


Women Physicians Still Working on Equality

Baptist Health Orthopedic Care

The first female orthopedic surgeon, Ruth Jackson, M.D., opened her practice in Dallas in 1932 when few physicians were women. Dr. Jackson’s fight for equity opened the door for many women, yet today, orthopedics and sports medicine are still male-dominated fields. Just seven percent of orthopedic surgeons are female, and the numbers of women in sports medicine careers, although growing rapidly, also remain low.


On International Women’s Day, Baptist Health is highlighting a few of its own trailblazing female physicians who are part of Baptist Health Orthopedic Care ― Anne Ouellette, M.D., MBA, chief of hand surgery; Maria Kyriacou, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician; and Dalibel Bravo, M.D., a hand surgeon.


Among them, they fill the traditional roles of mother and wife, juggling numerous priorities. But they are also in the operating room restoring function to a patient’s hand, they’re teaching new surgical techniques to students and colleagues, they’re leading research on new treatments and they’re on the football field ensuring athletes are safe. In addition, they are busy mentoring the next generation of surgeons.


It wasn’t until 2019 that females represented half of all students in medical school, according to the American Medical Association. And while more women are interested in pursuing male-dominated medical fields, orthopedics and sports medicine aren’t required rotations in medical school, where those career decisions are made.



Doctor Oulette

Anne Ouellette, M.D., MBA, chief of hand surgery, Baptist Health Orthopedic Care



“If each medical school attracts one additional female student to orthopedics, we will have 30 percent female representation in orthopedic residency programs within two years,” Dr. Ouellette says. “After 30 percent is achieved, gender diversity can be self-sustaining.”


Throughout training and in their careers, the women have frequently found themselves using humor to deflect negative barbs and help diffuse hostile situations.


“Laugh at and with yourself often and hard,” advises Dr. Ouellette, who has been known for her comeback line, “I have worked long and hard to surround myself with handsome young men.”



Dalibel Bravo

Dalibel Bravo, M.D., hand surgeon, Baptist Health Orthopedic Care



In medical school, Dr. Bravo often heard comments from male peers about the need to be big and strong to be an orthopedic surgeon. “But as one of my mentors, Dr. Toni McLaurin, used to say: ‘If you need brute force, you can always just go and find a brute.’”


For Dr. Kyriacou, who recently returned from working the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where football scouts evaluate prospective professional players on a variety of skills, having strong female figures was a plus. “My female role model is my mother and the attendings I met along the way in my medical career,” she says. “Each had different walks of life and different challenges they faced, and it was inspiring to see each of them dominate their field.”



Maria Kyriacou

Maria Kyriacou, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician, Baptist Health Orthopedic Care



Dr. Ouellette was one of the original members of the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society, founded in 1983 to mentor, educate and support female medical students and residents pursuing careers in orthopedic surgery. She also served as the organization’s president in 2007 and today the Society is open to all. She reminds students she works with that there are both wonderful female and male mentors and it’s important to seek them out. She and a male biomechanical engineer partnered to start the Upwelling Foundation, where they provide research apprenticeships to women and men to encourage the critical thinking and skill development necessary for research fields.


The women agree that it’s really about the work they do and the love they have for their careers that keeps them moving forward. In presentations she gives about the gender gap in orthopedics, Dr. Ouellette says the bottom line is to “come to work with the goal of high productivity, focus on what you have in common (your line of work), be inclusive and leave emotions at the door.” Also on her list of must-haves is speaking up and not allowing yourself to be passed by, and in your personal relationships having give-and-take partnerships.


As for the future of women in male-dominated fields, they are optimistic. “I do see more women going into the field of sports medicine and it’s been an exciting time where the opportunities have been available to all, and the future is indeed promising for all women in different walks of life,” Dr. Kyriacou says.


“It truly takes a village to raise an orthopedic surgeon and I have a tremendous amount of help from my very own village, including my medical staff, my husband, my parents and extended family and friends,” says Dr. Bravo, who considers herself fortunate to count Dr. Ouellette among her mentors. “And because more programs like my home program, NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital, are making a conscious effort to bring diversity into the field, the future definitely will include more women and ethnicities in the field of orthopedics.”





Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

I want to see the site in English

Continue In English

Quiero ver el sitio en Español

Continuar en español