Bridging the Gap

University of Chicago radiology residents work to improve the involvement and career advancement of women, URMs, in radiology

Bridging the Gap

Radiology, like many medical specialties, has struggled to train and graduate physicians to match the evolving diversity reflected in regional and national demographics. Despite comprising half of all medical school trainees, women have consistently represented less than 30 percent of radiology training programs, with even more dismal statistics being reported for underrepresented minorities (URMs).

The lack of diversity in radiology is multifactorial. It is partly due to concerns, both perceived and real, that medical students have when choosing a specialty. To alleviate these concerns, current members of the radiology workforce must work to actively recruit and engage female and URM medical students through meaningful mentorship, inclusion in scholarly activities, and leadership.

This glaring diversity gap has galvanized like-minded people in the department of radiology at the University of Chicago to create initiatives to improve the involvement and career advancement of women and URM trainees in academic radiology.

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From left to right: Kirti Kulkarni, MD, Maryellen Giger, PhD, Carina Yang, MD, Etta Pisano, MD, and Zheng Feng Lu, PhD. Kulkarni, Giger, Yang, and Lu are key members of the University of Chicago diversity committee and planning committee of the Radiology Expo. Pisano was the keynote speaker at the inaugural Radiology Expo in 2016.

On Nov. 5, 2016, the diversity committee of the University of Chicago department of radiology hosted the inaugural Radiology Expo and invited medical students from around the Midwest to learn more about the radiology profession. More than 50 students, representing nine medical schools attended the Expo. Pre- and post-Expo surveys were completed by 42 of the students for data analysis. The Expo featured a keynote speaker, didactic lectures, interactive panels, and hands-on workshops. We were thrilled when Etta D. Pisano, MD, accepted our invitation to give the opening address at the event. As a proponent of women in radiology, she spoke about the professional climate for women in radiology and provided career advice to all medical students. The Expo was well-received by the medical students in attendance and survey data showed that there was a statistically significant difference in responses for all but one question, demonstrating that the event improved their perceptions of diagnostic radiology. The Expo also allowed access for longitudinal mentoring and engagement between interested medical students and departmental faculty. As a result, the Expo was recognized on the national level and was highlighted as a high-impact project at the ACR 2017.

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Maryellen Giger, PhD, providing one-on-one advising to a medical student

The 2017 Expo was held on Nov. 11, 2017 and expanded featured Claudia I. Henschke, PhD, MD, who spoke about empowering the radiology workforce. Following Henschke’s keynote address, participants broke out into small group sessions that informed them about life as a radiologist, the radiology residency application process, and common misconceptions within the field. The sessions were conducted by panels of residents, fellows, and attending radiologists representing both academic and private practice. The small group format afforded students the opportunity to ask questions of radiologists in varying specialties and different levels of training. Students participated in interactive hands-on sessions on lumbar puncture simulation and ultrasound-guided breast biopsy simulation. Students also participated in individual mentoring sessions with radiologists from throughout the Chicago area.

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University of Chicago radiology resident Brittany Dashevsky, MD, DPhil, assisting in ultrasound-guided breast biopsy simulation using a phantom.

By Andrea L. Magee, MD, Alixandra S. Purakal, MD, Gustavo Mendez, MD, and Mythri Reddy, MD, diagnostic radiology residents at the University of Chicago, and Kirti Kulkarni, MD, and Carina Yang, MD, assistant professors of radiology at the University of Chicago.

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