Rick Wilkerson, D.O.’80, received the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Humanitarian Award for his volunteer work around the world. He was honored at the academy’s 2018 annual meeting for his nearly 30 years of helping people in areas underserved by doctors.
A physician with Northwest Iowa Bone, Joint and Sports Surgeons in Spencer, IA, Wilkerson is passionate about helping countries develop and improve their orthopedic capabilities. His global humanitarian pursuits have taken him to more than 14 countries such as Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Uganda.
Wilkerson has been greatly involved with Health Volunteers Oversees (HVO) and the International Medical Corps. Among his many accomplishments, he helped start the first total knee replacement surgery program in Iraq. Through HVO, he trained surgeons, treated patients, created orthopedic training programs and taught medical students in Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Uganda and Cambodia.
In addition, Wilkerson and his wife, Barb, a pediatric nurse practitioner, in 2011 established a charitable organization, Love Takes Root, to help children who are facing dire circumstances by providing basic aid, education and resources for a sustainable future.
Wilkerson has been a longtime, active member of the AAOS, serving on the editorial board of orthoinfo.org for nearly 15 years and the Board of Councilors for six years.
“Receiving the AAOS Humanitarian Award is an incredible honor, especially given the caliber of all the previous award recipients, many of whom I’ve known and worked with,” he said. “It means so much that my peers took the time to nominate me.”