Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Demystifying Radiology: A Dungeon No More
Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering what specialty you should choose? Then SheMD's Why Specialty Series is perfect for you! We're bringing you female physicians sharing WHY they chose their specialty. Today's post is on why Dr. Bencardino chose the field of radiology and why radiology is a great field for women.
The American Association of Women Radiologists (AAWR) was founded in 1981 with the main purpose of increasing the presence and visibility of women in the radiological field. Despite all efforts, fewer than one-quarter of practicing radiologists in the U.S. – indeed, only 21 percent - are women. The pipeline of women medical students pursuing a career in radiology appears to be the main limiting factor rather than bias against women in the resident selection process. A study including 4117 applications in one residency training program for a time span of 16 years revealed that only 24% of the applicants were women, yet they made up 30% of the applicants called to interview and 38% of those ranked in the top 25%. At the national level, numbers are quite similar. Although 46% of medical students are women, only 27% of residents are female -#RadXX-.
Two main contributing factors to low recruitment of women medical students in radiology have been identified:
1. The Dungeon Myth –lack of exposure:
In average, 92% of students in clerkship reported that the amount of radiology education in the medical school curriculum was either inadequate (70%) or very inadequate (22%). One fifth of the 18% of respondents with dedicated imaging rotations as requirement at their medical schools said that they considered radiology as their choice of specialization as a result of this exposure. It is likely due to the lack of exposure to real life radiology that women medical students go through their pre-clerkship and clerkship years having the misconception that radiologists are a group of sad, grumpy, and introverted individuals that like to spend their days confined in dark reading rooms with little or no contact with patients. Wrong!!! For more than two decades, the incorporation of sonography and interventional procedures in the daily lives of practicing radiologists moved radiologists from their role as isolated diagnosticians to active operators of imaging methods that involve interaction with patients, technologists, nursing and support staff. Even for diagnostic radiologists, at the moment, there is great push by the American College of Radiology and national radiological societies directed to creating patient-centered radiology practices in both academic and private institutions through the establishment of Diagnostic Consultation Clinics. The end result of this advocacy is to increase both patient and physician satisfaction leading to an increased demand for involvement of radiologists in communicating examination results.
2. Mentoring, leadership and role models - lack of representation at the top:
A recent study demonstrated that mentors, sponsors and influencers are very impactful for the advancement of women in medicine. Regretfully, only 14% of women have leadership roles in academic radiology and only 15% attain the rank of full professors; that is one half less as compared to men (35%). The disparity is noted all throughout the academic ladder: associate professors (F:M 17%:27%) and assistant professors (F:M 67%:35%). This lack of representation of women at the top limits the availability of female mentors, sponsors and champions -#SheForShe- for women trainees and junior faculty. Institutional change is required to level the field for women in radiology by incorporating policies that ensure appropriate representation, inclusion and diversity in the composition of leadership teams. Gender bias, whether overt or implicit, is in part responsible for the leadership disparities in radiology. Fair and conscientious advocacy by supportive men leaders -#HeForShe- has the ability to increase the representation of women in our field as a way to combat these biases (Figure 1). Recently, movement has been noticed in the right direction with several women radiologists occupying high ranking positions in leadership, among them: Dr. Geraldine McGinty, Chair of the American College of Radiology –ACR-; Dr. Vijay Rao, President of the Radiological Society of North America –RSNA-; and Dr. Ruth Carlos, new Editor-in-Chief of JACR.
Radiology is a very dynamic field characterized by frequent and fast paced technological innovations in the diagnosis and image-guided treatment of diseases. Radiology truly keeps you on your toes!
Multidisciplinary interaction presents wonderful opportunities for professional growth and satisfaction.
More and more radiologists participate as a key component of translational research teams in academic and private institutions.
Diagnostic and therapeutic-image guided procedures provide the patient contact and direct involvement in patient care that so many women in medicine find important in their choice of residency training.
Radiology is among the top ten best paid medical specialties with average annual compensation of $431K based on the 2019 Doximity Physician Compensation Report.
Thirty percent of women radiologists work part time allowing for balanced lifestyle. Most part-time women radiologists that I know strive to make the most of their clinical days. Deconstructing the myth that being a part-time worker equals to being not committed is of paramount importance.
Lara Hewett, Madelene Lewis, MD, Heather Collins, PhD, Leonie Gordon, MB,ChB. Gender Bias in Diagnostic Radiology Resident Selection, Does it Exist? Academic Radiology 2016;23(1):101–107
Adam A. Dmytriw, Philip S. Mok, Natalia Gorelik, Jordan Kavanaugh, and Peter Brown. Radiology in the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum: Too Little, Too Late? Med Sci Educ 2015;25(3):223–227.
Mark D. Mangano, Susan E. Bennett, Andrew J. Gunn, Dushyant V. Sahani, and Garry Choy. Creating a Patient-Centered Radiology Practice Through the Establishment of a Diagnostic Radiology Consultation Clinic. American Journal of Roentgenology 2015;205:95-99.
Amy K. Patel AK, Julia Fielding, Katarzyna J. Macura, Kimberly E. Applegate, Rosalee Zackula, Elizabeth Kagan Arleo. Women's Leadership in the ACR, 2001-2015. J Am Coll Radiol. 2017;14(6):830-837
Edward I. Bluth, MD, Swati Bansal, MS, Claire E. Bender, MD. The 2017 ACR Commission on Human Resources Workforce Survey. JACR 2017;14(12):1613–1619