Brandon O'Connor, BA, MS3, University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine
Diversity Deficit: The State of Diversity in Radiology
Radiology continues to rise in popularity, with 10% more residency applicants in 2022 than in 2018.1 Among the increase in applications, we have seen an overall increase in underrepresentation in radiology student applications. Compared to 2018, 21% more Black applicants, 13% more Latino applicants and 7.3% more female applicants applied to radiology in 2022.1 However, despite increasing applications, the percentage of underrepresented residents remains low. Only 3.9% of radiology residents are Black, 6.3% Latino and 27.7% female.2,3,4
Why Diversity Matters
Research has shown that a diverse workforce helps enhance teamwork, creativity, innovation, problem solving, productivity, loyalty and teamwork.5 Besides creating a beneficial work environment, a more diverse radiologist population can help our growing, diversifying population. Research has also shown that a physician’s race and ethnicity are the strongest predictors that a physician will care for underserved and vulnerable communities.5 Patients also report increased satisfaction when interacting with physicians from their same culture.5 Increasing the number of underrepresented radiologists may help address various health disparities seen in radiology today.
Recruiting Isn’t Enough
Recognizing the diversity deficit in radiology, many residencies have created programs to mentor and recruit underrepresented students. However, some of these programs still don’t have a strong foundation to help these minority residents succeed. I have attended multiple radiology residency information sessions, and a majority of them have discussed their residency’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. During a few of these sessions I posed the question: “What are you doing to make sure underrepresented residents feel comfortable at your institution and succeed?” While most of the residencies have had a response, more than a few said they are in the process of creating programs to ensure all residents receive equitable treatment. While that is a step in the right direction, it is important that programs are already established for the success of residents. Residents from underserved backgrounds may suffer multiple issues due to the lack of inclusion and structural racism in their programs.6 Structural inequities, microaggressions, isolation and stressors within work and learning environments threaten resident well-being and can result in burnout, depression, attrition and suicide.6
Creating an equitable and inclusive environment is the responsibility of us all. As future radiology residents and attendings, we owe it to our future colleagues and patients to continue to foster and advance diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives in the field of radiology.
- ERAS 2023 Cycle. AAMC. https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/interactive-data/eras-statistics-data. Accessed Dec. 29, 2022.
- Table B3. number of active residents, by type of medical school, GME specialty, and gender. AAMC. https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/students-residents/interactive-data/report-residents/2022/table-b3-number-active-residents-type-medical-school-gme-specialty-and-gender . Accessed Jan. 4, 2023.
- Table B5. number of active MD residents, by Race/ethnicity (alone or in combination) and GME Specialty. AAMC. https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/students-residents/interactive-data/report-residents/2022/table-b5-md-residents-race-ethnicity-and-specialty . Accessed Jan. 4, 2023.
- Table B6. number of active do residents, by Race/ethnicity (alone or in combination) and GME Specialty. AAMC. https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/students-residents/interactive-data/report-residents/2022/table-b6-do-residents-race-ethnicity-and-specialty . Accessed Jan. 4, 2023.
- Allen, B.J., Garg, K. Diversity Matters in Academic Radiology: Acknowledging and Addressing Unconscious Bias. J Am Coll Radiol. 2016;13(12 Pt A):1426–32.
- Terregino, C.A., Byerley, J., Henderson, D.D., et al. Cultivating the physician workforce: Recruiting, training, and retaining physicians to meet the needs of the population.Med Teach. 2021;43(sup2):S39–S48