Fostering diversity in the radiological sciences is a priority for the ACR. In 2012, the College established the Commission for Women and Diversity as an Association of American Medical Colleges Diversity 3.0 initiative. The 2014 ACR Strategic Plan set a goal to “increase diversity and inclusion in the radiological professions.” The Commission crafted a corresponding strategic plan, elaborating a vision “to achieve a profession that celebrates diversity and actively promotes inclusion at all levels of training, practice, and leadership.”
Creating a state chapter committee on women, diversity, and inclusion provides a critical opportunity for a chapter to locally embrace and actualize the ACR’s mission of “excellence through diversity.” Many chapters have enthusiastically championed the creation of such committees as the momentum around inclusion grows nationally. As of 2019, at least 34 states/organizations have created, or are in the process of creating, a diversity committee (see graphic).
In 2015, the first state chapter committee on women and diversity was established by the Washington State Radiological Society (WSRS). This ad hoc committee included members of the chapter leadership, active members in academics and private practice, and members-in-training. The group was approved as a standing committee in the fall of 2016. The WSRS committee’s inaugural chair, Gail N. Morgan, MD, FACR, was then tasked by the commission with authoring a blueprint to assist other chapters, from which she created the ACR reference guide, “How to Create a Committee on Diversity in Your ACR State Chapter” (see sidebar).
State diversity committees can identify, encourage, mentor, and support young underrepresented minorities (URMs) and female radiologists to take on leadership roles in their state chapters — creating a pathway to contributions and leadership in ACR nationally. Chapter leaders become Councilors, members of ACR committees and commissions, and ascend to elected positions on the College Nominating Committee, CSC, and other leadership positions. As a seminal example of how involvement in state chapters can be a catalyst for ACR leadership at the state and national levels, Morgan, who currently serves as chair of the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion on the Commission for Women and Diversity, made leadership contributions at the state and national levels — including as a former president of the WSRS. As an example of “paying it forward,” with Morgan’s support and mentorship, Rachel F. Gerson, MD, got involved at the state level as a member of the diversity committee. She has subsequently become its committee chair and was recently elected to the ACR CSC.
State diversity committees can identify, encourage, mentor, and support young URMs and female radiologists to take on leadership roles in their state chapters — creating a pathway to contributions and leadership in ACR nationally.
Encouraging a diverse array of medical students to choose the radiological sciences is vital to the future of our profession. However, there are several barriers to overcome. The first barrier is “a limited entry into the medical school pipeline which reduces the downstream pool of URMs” as future physicians.4 The second barrier is the lack of URMs and female representation specifically in radiology and radiation oncology, in comparison with other medical specialties — known as a “specialty disparity.”1,2,3 Specialties like family medicine and OB-GYN, for example, have shown the highest change in URM representation — increasing by 3.6% between 1990 and 2012. Radiation oncology shows the least increase in representation, going up only 0.8% for the same time period.2
Radiology is similar; from 2003 through 2011, URM and female trainee representation remained virtually unchanged.1 Diagnostic radiology is the ninth largest medical specialty in the U.S. — however, it ranks 20th and 17th for URM and female representation, respectively.1 This limited pipeline can be self-sustaining, with lack of representation reducing our ability to recruit diversity into our workforce. Therefore, intentional intervention to introduce our profession to high school, college, and early medical school students is key to future recruitment of diverse talent.
Diversity committees can coordinate outreach opportunities to these students and identify physician mentors at a statewide level. These activities dovetail with ACR’s efforts to prioritize early exposure to the radiological sciences through the Pipeline Initiative for Enrichment of Radiology mentoring program, which provides a sponsored summer research internship for first-year URM medical students. Creating a chapter committee allows for increased opportunities to enhance member engagement, foster problem-solving and innovation, and recruit and empower new members. Promoting diversity and inclusion positions our profession to meet the needs of an evolving and increasingly diverse population.