Annelise M. Silva, EdM, American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Pipeline Initiative for the Enrichment of Radiology (PIER) Class of 2021 Scholar and Class of 2024 MD Candidate at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, contributed this piece.

My first introduction to radiology was attending a ‘Go To Work With Your Dad Day’ when I was 10 years old. As I grew, my dad I bonded through getting me involved in research and I found the field exciting for reasons like many do — the technology, innovation, and being the 'doctor's doctor.' However, after college, I wanted to be a part of my community so I could really gain my grounding into why medicine. I joined Teach for America because I wanted to learn how to advocate for greater Black and Brown representation in STEM and it became clear to me that educational equity was inextricably tied to health equity. To address this and become a better advocate in this work, I learned that I needed to learn how to work at the intersection of research, education and medicine . That was the why I had been searching for. Radiology seemed like the perfect fit for me to work at that intersection as I began to learn in medical school that we have such an incredible opportunity to create transformational change and provide access to both healthcare and education for our patients.

As a woman of color in medicine, I was so excited that the ACR PIER Internship offered a space for me to meet mentors and peers, while learning more about the field of radiology in a way I hadn't before. My medical school had no radiology residency, affiliated radiology department, or radiology specialty advisor at the time I started, so I was desperate to learn more — not only for myself, but to also share with my peers. I was just thrilled to be able to come into a community of others excited about radiology and to finally dive headfirst into all of its specialty fields. Even now, as a fourth year, nothing compares to the exposure, mentorship and support I have received through PIER.

During the program, I loved the opportunity to explore what interdisciplinary medicine looks like through the Case in Point® project with Drs. Michele H. Johnson and Yi An. My case involved input from diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, pathology, radiation oncology, neurosurgery and more. It was amazing to see how the specialties weave seamlessly together to provide excellent patient care. For the didactic portions of the program, I couldn't believe how we had such a vast and diverse group of radiology leaders from across the country (and world) to take time to teach us. We truly felt part of a special PIER family. Yet, beyond the clinical didactics, we also had lectures about radiology culture, its future and more. It was so much more comprehensive than I could have imagined because it provided a strong overview of the different specialties, subspecialties, and general culture of the field while building a lifelong community of support.

Following the internship, I participated in speaking engagements on alumni panels, helping with interviews, etc., to ensure strong representation for our medical school in subsequent PIER classes. PIER opened a whole network of colleagues and mentors for us at our medical schools. Inspired by PIER, at my institution, we created a 1:1 mentoring program, expanded shadowing opportunities and started supervised student-run radiology education initiatives. I was also inspired to help design an ambitious collaboration to facilitate a future radiology education workshop geared toward medical students in the Philippines in January.

My experience as a PIER scholar truly changed my whole perspective of my career. Even though medical school can be overwhelming, and the expectations are sky high, there is a beauty to this time in your career. Take advantage of the educational opportunities in a way that allows you to craft the kind of physician you want to become. Find mentors and others who will cheer you on this long road. It's worth it. You belong here, in the field of radiology. Keep going!

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