September 25, 2023

My Transformative Experience in the ACR PIER Summer Program

Emily Hunt, BS, M2, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Entering the Zoom interview room for a chance to be a scholar in the ACR® Pipeline Initiative for the Enrichment of Radiology (PIER) summer program, I was a bundle of nerves and excitement.

As a first-year medical student, I interviewed into a program that aimed to amplify radiology exposure for underrepresented minorities and women first-year medical students across the United States.

Through this program, I would lead a Case in Point® research project with a mentor, present at the National Medical Association (NMA) annual conference and learn about the radiology field. The interview was a blur. A month later, I got the email: “Congratulations!” I was officially a part of the PIER cohort for summer 2023.

The PIER team created an enriching experience for 43 first-year medical students, including myself. Michele Johnson, MD, FACR, Program Chair, PIER, and Angelica Vergel de Dios, ACR staff, among other individuals, led the program and helped us navigate our mentor pairs, supported us in the Case in Point process and coordinated our lectures throughout the summer.

The PIER program hosted expert radiologists who opened my mind to the extensive influence that radiology has on all specialties and people. It revealed avenues such as emergency radiology fellowships, interventional radiology efforts in Tanzania (Road2IR) and pathways in radiation oncology.

One of the most valuable aspects of the program is its mentorship component. Not only did we interact with a variety of potential mentors who lectured throughout the summer, but we were paired one-on-one with a mentor.

I was paired with UCLA interventional radiologist, Shenise Gilyard, MD, who provided me with a case that combined my interests in women’s health, social determinants of health and interventional radiology. The sense of autonomy and support she provided through the research process was exciting and rewarding, and it helped me feel confident about research and leading projects going forward.

Reflecting on this experience, I am deeply grateful and honored to be a part of the PIER 2023 cohort. The PIER program’s impact was widespread, as the participants were able to foster connections with each other and build meaningful networks that have been a support to me on my path to radiology.

My immersion in the PIER summer program was a pivotal chapter in my medical journey. The program’s comprehensive mentorship, exposure of various radiology cases, camaraderie with fellow students and support beyond the summer have made me eager to continue my pursuit in the field of radiology.

The PIER program stands as a testament to the influence of structured support in nurturing future radiologists like me, and I hope to foster opportunities like these to aspiring radiologists one day due to the impact it had on me.

The 2024 PIER Internship application is open from Sept. 18, 2023 to Jan. 7, 2024. Learn more and apply.