Is the Future of Radiology Diversity, Acceptance and Mutual Understanding?

This post was contributed by Amy Patel, MD, breast radiologist, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass.

Patel_AmyI consider myself the eternal optimist. I am also a realist regarding the differing opinions of the fabric of our society and how difficult these discussions can be.

However, it’s an indisputable fact that diversity is proving to be invaluable in the business world and other arenas in the United States.

  • In fact, according to a Forbes study of 321 executives in companies that grossed $500 million or more annually, one of the “key findings” was that “Diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful on a global scale.”
  • McKinsey Global Institute reported that fostering women’s equality can potentially add $12 trillion to the global gross domestic product by 2025.
  • It is projected that by 2055 the United States will no longer be comprised of a majority regarding race or ethnicity.

Consequently, we as radiologists will be serving a diverse patient population. We will need to be prepared to meet the needs of our patients, including arriving to mutual understanding to better serve them.

The recent ACR Intersociety Summer Conference focused on the subject of diversity and inclusion, including devising action plans ranging from creating a pipeline to recruit female and underrepresented minority medical students into radiology to potentially implementing programs at institutions across the country that support our patients and fellow colleagues.

Remarkably, we are seeing a shift in perspectives regarding diversity in millennials as this topic was considered “the new norm” — reinforced during the meeting both by attendees and on social media. As a millennial, I feel more accustomed to welcome any patient demographic, as this is all my generation has ever really known, largely beginning from our training in medical school; Inclusion is second nature in many instances.

I acknowledge that we must not overgeneralize regarding one generation versus another, but we can certainly learn from one another if we keep the discussion going and are willing to be empathetic toward one another’s viewpoint. Additionally, we must not forget that the spectrum of diversity includes additional social constructs that we must embrace, including late-career colleagues and colleagues with disabilities.

As we look toward the future, we must provide resources to better educate radiologists at all levels of training to enrich our profession to be a successful, vibrant and, most importantly, an inclusionary one.

  • How are you preparing to meet the needs of a diverse patient population?
  • Do you think attitudes toward diversity differ based on generation? If so, how do you think it will affect radiology in the future?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

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