A member-in-training perspective on diversity now and in the future
In my own experience, I don’t think the question we should be asking is, why are radiology and radiation oncology being so exclusionary?
Instead, we need to focus on what we can do to recruit women and underrepresented minorities (URMs). We have an opportunity to welcome these groups, particularly in diagnostic radiology, where the number of diagnostic radiology positions filled during the National Residency Matching Program has seen a sharp decline since 2009. The specialty needs forthcoming and innovative physicians now more than ever.
As the specialty shifts along with the rest of health care, a varied contingency of radiologists will fortify the workplace and help create strong relationships with the diverse patients we treat.
As a female member-in-training, I cannot sit back and accept figures showing that diagnostic radiology is the 17th choice (out of the 20 largest residency training programs) for female medical students choosing a specialty and the last choice for URMs.
Promoting diversity in our field must start during training. Institutions need to look at inclusive recruitment strategies for medical students and residents, such as mentorship programs and information sessions involving practicing radiologists and radiation oncologists. We might also increase our reach by bringing in medical students as liaisons to state radiological societies. Or we could go one step further and work toward mandatory rotations in diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology for medical students, which would educate students about the specialty earlier in medical school.
Although the initial outpouring of support for diversity is certainly promising, making real change will require a concerted effort from all of radiology and radiation oncology, not just women and URMs. The groundwork has been laid by some of the College’s established leaders. But it is up to my generation of young radiologists to internalize the value of diversity and transform our specialty.
By Amy Patel, MD, chief resident at the University of Kansas-Wichita and RFS representative to the ACR Commission for Women and General Diversity