September 09, 2020

Women in Radiology Spotlight: A Q&A with Cheri L. Canon, MD, FACR, FAAWR

Interview by Juan D. Guerrero-Calderon, MD, PGY-5, and ACR-RFS Women and Diversity Advisory Group Chair

The gender disparity in radiology is greater than in other specialties. The ACR-RFS Women and Diversity Advisory Group intends to contribute to the structural changes that are underway to change that. We are initiating a series of Q&A articles highlighting women leaders in our field. We kick off this series with Cheri L. Canon, MD, FACR, FAAWR.

Cheri Canon, MD, FACR, FAAWR headshot

Canon is a professor and Witten-Stanley Endowed Chair of Radiology at UAB School of Medicine and sits on UAB Medicine’s Joint Operating Leadership Council. She served as oral examiner for the ABR for eleven years, was member of the Board of Trustees, and now sits on its Board of Governors. She was vice chair of the ACR, an ACR BOC member, and previously served as chair of the ACR Commission on Education. She is President of SCARD and co-creator of LEAD, a women’s leadership development program by SCARD and GE Healthcare. She is active in the Birmingham, Ala., community, a member of the Birmingham Rotary Club, and president for MOMENTUM, a Birmingham women’s leadership organization.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies have evolved with the pandemic. While I have always loved to spend a beautiful sunny day on the beach, we are now campers, too. Malcolm, my husband, and I took fly fishing lessons a few years back and now enjoy quiet times on beautiful streams, cooking over a campfire, and just taking a moment to see what the world has to offer. We live in a beautiful place and sometimes forget the majesty of our nation.

What is your favorite book?

If I am frank, I do not have a favorite book. There are too-many-to-count titles I have benefitted from and enjoyed over the years, and even a few I have re-read. I find books to be either topical, such a leadership skill development, or entertaining. The latter is typically a “beach” read, and I will not share specific titles. I don’t want to be judged.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to so many people. We can learn something from everyone and broaden our perspective of the world if we take a moment to view it from another’s eyes. There is so much to take from those seemingly transient moments shared with one another.

Which personal characteristic has been most important for your success in a male-dominated field?

Empathy. Empathy is often the answer. We must truly understand not only the views but also the experiences of others as this is what informs our biases and therefore our behaviors. And also patience. Infinite patience.

What is your favorite part of work?

Watching others’ growth and successes, particularly those early successes such as a first publication or invited presentation. Academic journeys are some of the most rewarding, and to see the sense of pride and joy is truly energizing and deeply moving. It makes it all worthwhile. I still get goosebumps when a colleague sends me an email notification of their first accepted manuscript.

What is your most important advice to trainees?

Strive to be a resonant leader. Actively develop your empathy. Try to assume positive intent in others, particularly during these unusually stressful times.

What has been the key to the success of your diversity efforts?

An individual’s body of work should be steeped in their passions. It is this passion that allows for sustained energy to conquer those seemingly impossible challenges. Do what you love, and that will create the most impact. I deeply care about diversity in its every definition. I have seen what happens when it is missing.