ISMRM: Charting a course of diversity and inclusion

2019 05 10 21 30 8434 Canada Montreal Skyline 400

MONTREAL - Ensuring sustainability and promoting diversity are two key strategies for the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) as the organization heads into the future.

Dr. Pia Maly Sundgren, PhD, 2018-2019 ISMRM president, delivered that message on Sunday to some of the 5,400 attendees at this year's annual meeting.

"We are a diverse, inclusive society where we bring along students, fellows, clinicians, physicists, technicians, and bioengineers," said Sundgren, who also serves as professor of radiology at Lund University in Sweden. "It is a safe place, an open place that makes [people] feel secure."

Currently, ISMRM has 7,675 paid members, which signals an increase for the organization. The influx of talent has come primarily from North America, followed by Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Among the organization's total membership are 3,428 students.

While enrollment has risen, ISMRM also has seen a "slow but steady decline" in the number of clinicians in the organization, Sundgren noted.

"That is something the society needs to work on -- to find better solutions to bring in clinicians because they are extremely valuable to our society and our network of collaborations with our physicists and radiographers," she added.

There also has been a growing balance between males and females in the society, with women now accounting for 25% of full-time members. At the same time, however, ISMRM has seen female students leave the organization after their training. The reason for the outbound trend is unknown, but Sundgren wants the society to explore the issue and develop ways to keep these students in the fold.

During her time as president over the past year, Sundgren has cultivated the organization's strategic plan, which commenced with the previous ISMRM president: Dr. Daniel Sodickson, PhD, professor and vice chair for research in the department of radiology at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

The strategic plan centers on four tenets:

  • Increase the value of MR by developing tools and platforms to enable widespread innovation.
  • Communicate the value of MR by expanding the awareness of the modality and its benefits to key audiences.
  • Expand the organization's global connectivity through collaborations and partnerships.
  • "Keep our house in order" by advancing the professionalism of the organization, performing a regular governance review, and pursuing policies that ensure the financial sustainability of ISMRM.

"Promote, mention, and demonstrate every time you have a chance to your colleagues the value of MRI, and do it for your patients," Sundgren said. "That will increase our mission and our visibility in the world."

Under Sundgren's direction, ISMRM last year also created the position of equity officer. Dr. Elizabeth Morris, chief of breast imaging at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, accepted the inaugural post. Her duties include promoting the value of culture, gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and political beliefs.

"It is our mission to make sure everyone working in our field has equal and fair opportunities to contribute," Sundgren added. "She is there to help us to remember and not forget to be diverse, [and] to be inclusive in everything that we do."

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