Radiologists and Girl Scouts Are More Alike Than You Realize

DrAscherThis post was contributed by Susan M. Ascher, MD, Professor, Vice Chair of Research, and Co-Chief of Abdominal Imaging at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.; and President of the Society of Body Computed Tomography and MR

What do Girls Scouts and radiologists have in common? That’s what 4th year Georgetown University Hospital Radiologist Dr. Nancy Kim and I set out to discover this past weekend when we spent time with a local high school Girl Scout troop exploring what it means to be a radiologist. Given that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is one of Girl Scouts’ four core foundations in leadership, radiology was a natural fit.

We started the program asking a series of questions: Are radiologists physicians? Yes. Do radiologists take the images? Sometimes. Do radiologists have patient contact? Yes. How many years does it take to be a radiologist? 13+. Are there many women radiologists? We need more.

We then played a “Spot the Difference” game to introduce them to what radiologists do daily – analyze images. Next, we gave the girls a series of image pairs to test their observational and deductive skills; for example, a normal wrist paired with a wrist with a colles’ fracture. We not only asked them to identify the differences between the image pairs, but we also encouraged them to explain their thought process. Tentative at first, soon the girls were raising their hands and shouting the answers and explanations.

VORGirlScouts1

We ended the day with cookies (natch) and a Q&A. After we dispelled the notion that “Grey’s Anatomy” is an accurate depiction of hospital life, the girls asked about opportunities in radiology. We spoke about the successes women in radiology have achieved and the areas where more work needs to be done. We shared our hope that young women like themselves would be part of our future.

We concluded that Girls Scouts and radiologists have much in common — in fact, women radiologists embody many of the values enshrined by Girls Scouts: to have a strong sense of self; seek challenges and learn from setbacks; display positive values; take on leadership positions; and identify and solve problems!

Urban Dictionary defines a STEMinist as an advocate for increasing the presence of women in science, technology, engineering and math—I think that Dr. Kim and I were STEMinists that afternoon, and would challenge you to be STEMinist as well.

And we don’t have to wait until these young leaders reach high school! You can use resources from the newly launched RadInfo 4 Kids to help children of any age learn more about medical imaging, or replicate the efforts of a group of more than 20 ACR members who helped answer questions from an inquisitive second grade class earlier this year on Twitter.

So step away from the PACS station, step out of the dark room and reach out to your local Girls Scouts troops or other youth organizations that empower young women—it’s another opportunity to showcase our specialty, prove that #RadsHaveAFace and ensure radiology’s relevance in the coming years.

  • Have you shared what it means to be a radiologist with the young women in your community?
  • What are you doing to attract more women to our profession?

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

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