Last week, Mark Wilson, MD, was caring for a patient in Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, when he happened to look up and notice that everyone on the interventional radiology team was Black.
Thinking back, Dr. Wilson realized that they had all worked together before, but on that morning he was struck by the significance of the moment: “Representation is an area where radiology, not just IR, can suffer. Imagine being a patient at ZSFG from an underrepresented community, and seeing a team of professionals who look like you. As a patient, you know that this team will be better able to understand your experience.”
Research consistently shows that Black patients have disparate access to diagnostic imaging which leads to worse outcomes. Black physicians are underrepresented in radiology, and among the radiology subspecialties, neuroradiology and interventional radiology fellowships have the least Black physician representation. Physicians from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to choose to practice in areas with low access to medical care, and those patients are more likely to receive the highest quality of attention and care when paired with medical personnel who share their backgrounds.
Reflecting on this recent experience, Dr. Wilson said, “I’m proud of our Department of Radiology and grateful to be practicing medicine here. We’ve worked to recruit and retain underrepresented physicians in radiology, and we have been intentional in fostering our community, including technologists and nurses, to help moments like these happen. We know there is always more work to do, even as we pause for a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come.”