Q: How do you increase public awareness of radiology?
When I chose to pursue radiology, my mentors tried to dissuade me, warning I would sit in a dark room and never see patients.
Shattering this stereotype requires a four-pronged approach. Radiologists must raise our profile with patients, providers, the public, and policymakers.
For patients, be visible and available. At my group, we interact with our patients, which allows for clinical discussions and establishes a relationship that distinguishes us from technologists.
For referring providers, raise the bar on being the doctor's doctor. Instead of relying on passive reports, personally relay results and help develop treatment plans. My colleagues appreciate direct communication, and it demonstrates radiologists' vital role in healthcare.
For the public, promote radiologists as experts. Many see surgery as the solution to problems interventional radiologists could treat with minimal invasion. I use platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to educate and advocate through campaigns that highlight the impact of our field. Locally, I deliver seminars on breast health and imaging.
For policymakers, emphasize radiologists' importance through the Radiology Advocacy Network and RADPAC (the ACRA's political action committee). I have joined advocacy efforts regarding coverage for 3-D mammography and CT colonography, breast-density reporting legislation, and protection of access to screening.
For radiologists hoping to shatter stereotypes, showing up is half the battle. We must leave our isolation and meet the needs of patients and providers, while shining a light on the importance of our work to the public and policymakers.
Anjali Malik, MD, breast imaging and intervention specialist at Washington Radiology Washington, D.C., area