Dr. Claudia L. Thomas: America’s First Black Female Orthopedist

Claudia Thomas, the first African American female Orthopedist, survived cancer and continues to persevere as a mentor.

Claudia L. Thomas is not only America’s first Black female orthopedist, she was also the first woman to graduate from Yale University‘s Orthopedic Program and aided in recruiting the most of the minorities that have ever studied orthopedics at Johns Hopkins. Thomas credits her success to her mentors who helped guide her. 

At a very young age Thomas was inspired to join the field of medicine by following in the footsteps of her mentor and her pediatrician Pearl Foster. Pearl was an African American female MD and Thomas said,

It told me this was something I could do, someone I could be…this indicates that people doing positive and productive things present a very powerful image for the young mind.”

This positive influence during her childhood is what inspired Thomas to do some mentoring of her own. Claudia L. Thomas’s life has been an inspiration in more ways than just one. In her autobiography God Spare Life Thomas chronicles the key phases of her life: higher education, surviving Hurricane Hugo and conquering the “Big C” cancer. Thomas is a a true inspiration and she received the Diversity Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 2008.

– Nishat Baig