Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Ron Navarro
As one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in the US, Dr. Ronald A. Navarro has received numerous honors. Even so, 2017 was a standout year: Dr. Navarro was named to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Board of Directors. He was named Kaiser Permanente South Bay Surgeon of the Year (2017-2018), and Top Orthopaedic Doctor by the International Association of Ortho Surgeons (2016-2017), and more.
These honors recognize the impact that Dr. Navarro has had on the quality of orthopedic care in his practice area of Southern California, and through his research. They speak to the difference he has made in the lives of millions of patients who have musculoskeletal injuries.
Since 2013, Dr. Navarro has served as the Regional Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, a role in which he provides leadership to more than 200 orthopedic surgeons in 13 Kaiser Permanente Centers, reaching from Santa Barbara to San Diego. He has conducted extensive research in orthopedic surgery, in shoulder and knee surgery and orthopedic sports medicine, among other areas: currently he is principal investigator or co-investigator in more than 15 major studies. He also contributes to news media with that reach patients and their families with health information in both Spanish and English.
Dr. Navarro received his BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria and did his Orthopaedic residency training at Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, with a post residency fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh in shoulder surgery, sports medicine and arthroscopy. He practices in the community where he grew up and serves as team consultant to local high schools’ sports teams, and as a leading participant in community health education and outreach activities.
In 2017, Dr. Navarro joined NMF National Alumni Council as a member of our Regional Council in California. This was an honor for NMF, because Dr. Navarro brings to this role his experience as a Latino-American who worked hard to succeed in a demanding medical specialty, and is now dedicated to helping the next generation of physician leaders.
Dr. Navarro knows that his story is like that of many others who come from groups underrepresented in medicine. His parents were from rural Mexico, and had little education. Ronald (and his twin) were the youngest of five boys. Their father was a model, a “real hard worker” who kept a tight ship at home, and worked hard to provide everything his children needed, including the inspiration to excel academically. Ronald, like his brothers, was interested in sports, and came to look closely, with scientific interest, at the body’s athletic power and how it was achieved. He began to dream of becoming a doctor, which for him meant becoming an orthopedist/sports medicine specialist. Making a way forward in this field was at times a struggle (“but you can learn from struggle,” Dr. Navarro told us, and he did). Today he is living the life he dreamed of, and wants to make sure that other young people, from families like his, have the same opportunity.
One of the things that Dr. Navarro learned was that we need to work harder to make it possible for students from underrepresented groups to follow in his footsteps. In orthopedic surgery, Latinos and other minority groups are underrepresented – more so than in any other specialty. And this has not changed over decades. As Dr. Navarro puts it, we need to give a “leg up” to talented young people who want to enter this very competitive field. Giving back through NMF is a way to do this.
Dr. Navarro’s own contributions are a strong argument for supporting medical students from underrepresented groups. As a part of Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Navarro not only leads orthopedic services in Southern California, but also contributes to Kaiser Permanente’s longstanding mission to achieve diversity in the healthcare workforce as a way of achieving health equity, or better healthcare for all of California’s underserved communities.