Women in Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Featuring Dr. Kimberly Kaiser
By Dr. Gregory Rubin, DO
The field of orthopedics has been a historically male dominated specialty. Amongst all surgical specialties, Orthopedic surgery ranks at the bottom of the list when looking at the percentage of female residents in a given specialty (Caitlin Chamber, 2018). There are multiple theories as to why females do not end up in Orthopedics. These range from lack of exposure to the field early in training and a lack of female mentors (Valerae Lewis, 2018).
Since a lack of female mentors has been viewed as a barrier for females to enter Orthopedics, we wanted to highlight one of our mentors here at the Sports Med Review.
Dr. Kimberly Kaiser is a primary care sports medicine physician at the University of Kentucky. She attended medical school at the University of Missouri and went on to complete a residency in family medicine at the University of Missouri. Following residency, she completed her primary care sports medicine fellowship at the University of Kentucky. Upon completion of her fellowship, she accepted a faculty position at the University of Kentucky as an Assistant Professor within the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Dr. Kaiser also serves as one of three core faculty members for the Primary Care Sports Medicine fellowship at the University of Kentucky. We chose to highlight Dr. Kaiser because of her rapid ascent in the field of sports medicine despite the perceived barriers females face within the field.
Dr. Kaiser was first exposed to sports medicine at a young age due to injuries she experienced while playing competitive high school sports. Luckily, her few injuries were not career ending and she ended up lettering in volleyball, basketball, track, and softball. While coping with her sports injuries, she discovered that she had an interest in problem solving. She enjoyed watching her doctors analyze a symptom or problem and break it down like a logic puzzle to come up with a diagnosis and plan.
During my fellowship training, I remember a case with Dr. Kaiser of a young gymnast presenting with wrist pain. Prior to fellowship, I only knew how to test a wrist in flexion/extension and abduction/adduction. However, when Dr. Kaiser evaluated the patient, she checked the patient in flexion/extension and abduction/adduction, but also stressed the joint in extension with ulnar deviation. She astutely diagnosed the patient with Extensor Carpi Ulnaris tendinopathy and prescribed an physical therapy prescription. As an educator, Dr. Kaiser frequently shares her experience with medical students and residents interested in sports medicine. Her strongest recommendation is to be a good resident and focus on mastering your primary specialty. Being skilled at your primary specialty and being passionate about your fundamental medical knowledge can help you stand out as an applicant.
As a team physician, Dr. Kaiser serves as head team physician for Eastern Kentucky University and serves as head team physician for the University of Kentucky women’s volleyball team, women’s basketball team, women’s soccer team, gymnastics team, softball team, men’s and women’s swimming and diving team, men’s and women’s tennis team and women’s golf. She attributes her success and rise within the University of Kentucky to two clinical mentors. Both Dr. Robert Hosey and Dr. Kyle Smoot helped pave the way for her growth as a team physician. Dr. Hosey, who serves as the head team physician for the University of Kentucky, gave her the first opportunity to join the Orthopedic Department at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Kaiser also lists Dr. Kyle Smoot as one of the pivotal colleagues who helped her grow professionally. Both Dr. Smoot and Dr. Kaiser are credited with leading the growth of the ultrasound guided injection clinics within the department of sports medicine.
As a team physician, you get to enjoy the highs of winning, but are also with the athlete during the low times as well. Dr. Kaiser says that some of her highest moments as a team physician were being part of a gymnastics team that had to battle through injuries and despite all of their obstacles, collected multiple SEC championships and earned school records for highest scores.
However, as a sports medicine physician, the job does not only take place on the sideline or training room. At the University of Kentucky, Dr. Kaiser is actively involved in clinical research. She is part of a team of physicians and researchers looking for a point of care test for concussions. They are looking at identifying a serum protein that can be detected with sideline finger stick that can help aid in concussion diagnosis. So far, their data has found the protein to be both specific and sensitive for concussions.
Overall, the field of primary care sports medicine is a growing. Dr. Kim Kaiser served as a mentor for me and is becoming an influential physician within the field of sports medicine. Early exposure to the field of Orthopedics can help foster interest in females from a young age and spring them in to a field in sports medicine.
If you a female candidate looking to pursue sports medicine, please contact us and we can get you in touch with Dr Kaiser. We recommend you check out our section for prospective medical students and residents if you are interested in pursuing sports medicine. Also, shout out to our colleagues at SheMD.com for helping promote Women in Medicine.
Caitlin Chamber, S. I. (2018). Women in Orthopaedic Surgery. Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, e116.
Valerae Lewis, S. S. (2018). Women in Orthopaedics-Way Behind the Number Curve. Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, e30.