Improving Health Through Medical Physics


Kalpana M. Kanal, PhD | Seattle, WA

AAPM Newsletter — Volume 43 No.1 — January | February 2018

Diversity and Fairness Within the American Board of Radiology

I began my role as the diagnostic medical physics trustee for the American Board of Radiology (ABR) in October 2017 at the ABR Fall Retreat in Tucson. I am excited about being the ABR's newest medical physics trustee because I truly believe that ABR certification is at the heart of clinical medical physics. I replaced J. Anthony Seibert, who is now serving on the ABR Board of Governors. At the October meeting, we said goodbye to Geoffrey S. Ibbott, who completed his term as governor and as ABR Secretary/Treasurer. We will greatly miss Tony and Geoff, whose many contributions and sage advice have been very important to us.

During a recent meeting at which we assembled one of our exams, I noticed that two-thirds of the participants were women. This started me thinking a bit more about diversity within the ABR. While I am the first woman who has served as a medical physics trustee, women and women physicists have a long and distinguished history in the organization, as well as a strong role today. At present, 27 percent of our 142 medical physics committee members are women. A little more than 20 percent of our oral examiners are women, and four of seven panels at the last Oral Exam were chaired by women.

Regarding women in ABR leadership, our executive director, Dr. Valerie Jackson, and our president, Dr. Lisa Kachnic, are women. One-third of our associate executive directors and 44 percent of our directors are women. Women are also well represented on the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees.

We recently checked the performance of medical physics candidates on the Part 2 and Oral exams by gender. Women perform slightly better on the Oral Exam, and men perform slightly better on the Part 2 Exam. Neither difference is statistically significant.

There is also some interesting history. The ABR began examining radiologists in 1934. Shortly thereafter, it decided that medical physics should be part of the radiology Oral Exam and asked Edith Quimby (photo) to be an examiner in 1936. She remained an oral examiner for more than 50 years. In those early days, medical physicists were certified by the RSNA. However, when the ABR began certifying medical physicists in 1947, Dr. Quimby was in the inaugural class. A couple of years later, Dr. Rosalyn Yalow was also certified by the ABR, and she remains the only diplomate of the ABR to receive the Nobel Prize.

Picture of Edith Quimby

I am very pleased with the diversity, both historic and current, that exists within the ABR and will work to continue to enhance it. The ABR is always committed to increasing its diversity. If you would like to volunteer, an application is available on our website.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)