ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Responding to Racial Inequity

As protests against racial injustice continue across the U.S., the ACR is speaking out and moving forward with change.
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This is not a black problem. This is an American problem.

—Melissa A. Davis, MD, MBA
August 25, 2020

On June 1, the ACR was among the first healthcare organizations to weigh in on the racial injustice in the country, issuing the following statement:

“In recent weeks, our nation has again suffered a series of events which illuminate the disparities of our healthcare system and our society in general. Healthcare and economic disparities account for vastly disproportionate disease and death rates among African Americans, once-again magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic (see page 8 of the special section on health equity). As a professional medical organization, the ACR recognizes these events as tragedies not only for our population, patients, and frontline colleagues, but for our profession and nation, that must be addressed. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., noted in 1963, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.’ We support the victims of senseless violence while we work to increase diversity, inclusion and access to care in our field of radiology. While recent events have been tragic, and even shocking, we still have the opportunity to address inequity in healthcare and social justice disparity in America in ways that preserve the safety and dignity of all involved. We look forward to working with other medical providers, affected communities, lawmakers, government agencies, and other stakeholders to address such inequities and effect positive change together.”

In response to the ACR statement, Melissa A. Davis, MD, MBA, assistant professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale University, wrote the following on ACR Engage:

“I applaud the ACR for taking a stance on the systemic disenfranchisement of the black community. It is a step in the right direction and in line with the multitude of healthcare organizations starting to speak out on what is a public health crisis. While these events are tragic, they are not shocking. I am not shocked because this is not the first time, and frankly I don’t expect it to be the last. I am tired. I am exhausted. I am dismayed. I am sad. I am angry. I am scared, but not shocked.

Why? Because black people live under chronic stress which is directly related to rampant underlying chronic illness. Because black women are 2.5 times more likely to die in childbirth when compared to white women — regardless of socioeconomic status. Because as a physician I have an obligation to leverage my voice and help those in need.

This is not a black problem. This is an American problem. This hurts all of us, even if you don’t feel it as acutely as I do. This cannot even begin to be solved until those with power leverage it to help a community whose necks are crushed under the knee of aggressive, unnecessary, authority — literally and figuratively. The ACR can be an ally.”

Fostering diversity and inclusion in the radiological sciences is a priority for the ACR. The College’s goal is to introduce medical students to the field early — particularly those from backgrounds underrepresented in the specialty, who might not otherwise be informed about or consider radiology or radiation oncology. The pages of this issue of the Bulletin highlight the many ways in which radiology is moving the needle forward on diversity and inclusion. Ashley Prosper, MD, a radiologist at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, is using an ACR Innovation Fund grant to assess lung cancer screening in minority populations. Massachusetts General Hospital has launched a system-wide effort to ensure that patients, providers, and employees are treated equitably and have access to necessary information during the COVID-19 pandemic. Creating a state chapter committee on diversity and inclusion can provide a critical opportunity for members to locally embrace and actualize the ACR mission of “excellence through diversity via enhanced member engagement, problem-solving and innovation, and mentorship.”

Promoting diversity and inclusion positions our profession to meet the needs of an evolving and increasingly diverse patient population. The College hopes to inspire you to take the next step to achieving health equity in your community.