“Over the last few months, we have kept in touch with you about our responses to the COVID-19 crisis. However, the recent events remind us that the pandemic is not the only challenge we face as physicians in the United States of America. Our country is in the midst of challenging times right now and organizations all over the country are wrestling with whether or not they should reach out to their respective members, if that reach out would be seen as genuine or something that was forced upon them by the times, or if they should simply remain silent. As the pain of a situation or environment grows, so too do the deafening screams of silence. It is with this in mind that the ABOS wanted to speak directly to its 28,000 Diplomates and perhaps more specifically to those approximately 600 that identify as African American. The graphic video showing the choking death of George Floyd horrified the nation as we are sure it did orthopaedic surgeons everywhere. Moreover, the pleas of an adult for his mother just moments before his death undoubtedly struck an emotional chord in even the most stoic individuals who consider themselves to be members of any family unit.
The mission statement of the ABOS centers on its role of protecting the public by maintaining standards for Board Certification. That public we protect includes all people regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. It is however during times like this that true leaders ask of themselves if they have extended the same degrees of protection and the same goals to the very people that constitute its stakeholders. We, the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, want to affirm our unwavering support of all of our Diplomates regardless of the nature of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or their worn identity. We recognize however that these most recent events have brought to light an ugly truth in America: the appearance of the American dream may differ for way too many Americans. On the heels of racial disparities that were uncovered during the COVID pandemic we are now bearing witness to the death of another unarmed African American male. There may therefore be specific members of our ABOS Diplomate population that are reeling during these times as they wrestle with the feelings of isolation and other-worldness magnified by the demographics of our own training programs, academic bodies, and governing bodies. Feelings of grief, anger, and fear are understandable and we as a community must come together in support of all of our Diplomates with a closed mouth and open ears so that we might all grow in the understanding of experiences that are foreign to many of us.
While any words right now may seem inadequate, our sentiment behind these words is not. We have much work to do in our orthopaedic community and the ABOS stands ready to uphold our responsibilities to the public and to our Diplomates.”
The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery