More Women Needed in Radiology

Dr.McGinty(updated)_andcroppedDr. Kathleen Ward, an inaugural Fellow of the American Association of Women Radiologists,  recently acknowledged that radiology lags behind other specialties and medical school classes in gender diversity.

To boost recruitment, Dr. Ward urged that all medical students be exposed to radiology early in their clinical years.

Many of us are in the thick of residency interviews. The consensus is that we are getting more terrific candidates than ever. Some programs are now measuring their match performance not just on the board scores of their future residents, but also on the diversity of the group.

That is a positive trend. We know that what gets measured gets done. But, why is it important to make our profession more diverse?

Statistics show that business performance improves with more diverse boards and corporate leadership. Is the same true of radiology?

Also, as we face disruptions around the application of machine learning to our work, should we have to worry about the gender or ethnicity of those who perform it?

For me, the answer boils down to what I see as our core purpose as physicians: serving our patients. Specifically: our imperative to refashion our processes of care around our patients rather than around our needs. We do that most effectively when we reflect the community we serve.

This is not to say that we have to do that in a prescriptive way, but that the conversations around research direction, around technology innovation and around metrics of practice quality can be enabled and improved by bringing in diverse viewpoints and perspectives.

I’m excited about foundational work that the American College of Radiology will undertake early in 2018 under the auspices of the Commission on Women and Diversity. A rigorous survey will be conducted so that we can better understand the barriers to a more diverse radiology workforce.

I find some of the anecdotes that point to women’s fear of physics or working in dark rooms worthy of an eye roll. But I’d like to have actionable real data either way. We’re grateful to Dr. Pari Pandharipande of the Massachusetts General Hospital for her leadership on this important initiative.

On a lighter note: we need more women in radiology because those we have are an inspiring, energetic and cool bunch! They are my mentors, teachers and friends. Our #radxx community is strong and growing using innovative tools and partnerships to build community. We are delighted to include our #radxy colleagues because they, too, are our mentors, teachers and friends.

Wishing you and those you love a very happy holiday, and we’ll see you next year!

Please share your thoughts on how we can make radiology more diverse  in the comments section below and joining the discussion on Engage (login required).

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