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Embracing Diversity

We can move the needle on creating the specialty our patients deserve if we are willing to walk boldly toward the barriers that hold us back.
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Although we have made some headway, there remains a lot of work ahead of us. We need to create just and equitable work environments with policies, productivity targets, and incentives that are transparent and non-discriminatory.

June 01, 2019

We’ve long known that radiology is one of the least diverse specialties — lagging behind much of medicine when it comes to participation by women and underrepresented minorities (URMs). But knowing this is not the same as doing something about it.

In 2012, the ACR BOC approved the creation of a new Commission for Women and Diversity to address the lack of diversity in our radiological professions. The Commission was to serve as an advisory group to the BOC on the status of women and other minorities and its goals were to:

  • Conduct research, analyze economic and social trends, and provide education on women’s and diversity issues in the radiology community
  • Identify inequities in practices and procedures, and recommend and promote remedies, policies, and programs to enhance the working and learning environments in radiology
  • Communicate with the ACR membership through publications in the ACR Bulletin and JACR®
  • Participate in educational activities focused on mentorship and leadership development

At the 2013 ACR Annual Meeting and Chapter Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., I joined the BOC as chair of the new Commission and wondered, “Where does radiology fit along the spectrum of the diversity movement?” Diversity 1.0 focused on the elimination of inequalities and injustices as a human right. Diversity 2.0 addressed how the implementation of diversity programs allows access and enables the success of racial and ethnic minorities. The Commission’s above mentioned goals were part of the Diversity 2.0 strategy — with a vision to move the College and its membership to the Diversity 3.0 level. With Diversity 3.0, diversity and inclusion get to the center of the institutional mission as an integral ingredient for achieving excellence.

At ACR 2015, the Council voted to adopt Resolution 14, which affirmed the College’s commitment to diversity and positioned it as a priority for the organization going forward.

The American College of Radiology affirms that diversity of our membership, and of the radiological professions in general, strengthens our organization and enhances our ability to achieve our mission. The American College of Radiology affirms that diversity of our membership is a central objective and that opportunities to continually measure and assess our membership diversity should be  promoted.

With the endorsement from the house of radiology acknowledging diversity as a core value and strategy, we opened the door to implementing the Diversity 3.0 paradigm — where diversity is considered “a strategic imperative.”

In 2017 the ACR Intersociety Summer Conference took on the topic of diversity in radiology. The Intersociety Committee reviewed the current state of diversity among trainees and in our workplaces and addressed future strategies for fostering diversity through inclusion. A summary of the meeting was subsequently published in the JACR. 

 The ACR and the Commission are committed to policies and programs that address the shortage of women and URMs in the radiological profession. As chair of the Commission, I’ve realized that part of the solution lies in us acknowledging our biases and learning to “walk boldly toward them,” as activist Vernã Myers puts it. Our Commission has embarked on projects that move the needle forward in recognizing existing barriers and building strategies to overcome them. We implemented a mentoring program for minority medical students — the Pipeline Initiative for the Enrichment of Radiology (PIER). We conducted a national survey of ACR members in which we queried physicians’ attitudes about their work environment, relationships, and culture. We sought to determine if  responses differed by gender or race/ethnicity,with a goal to identify potential impediments to building a diverse workforce in radiology professions.

Although we have made some headway, there remains a lot of work ahead of us. We need to create just and equitable work environments with policies, productivity targets, and incentives that are  transparent and non-discriminatory. We will benefit from allowing flexibility in the workplace, offering family-friendly leave policies to encourage work/life integration, and promoting well-being — while addressing the causes of burnout. Fostering a culture of diversity and inclusivity will benefit not only our specialty but also the patients we serve.

Read more about the Commission for Women and Diversity’s efforts in the 2019 report, “Excellence through Diversity and Inclusion."

Author Katarzyna J. Macura, MD, PhD, FACR  Guest Columnist