Women in Radiology – our radiologists’ perspective
Following Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we thought it would be appropriate to highlight the talented female radiologists who are dedicated to assisting patients who walk through the doors of our Morton & Partners practices across South Africa.
Women have continued to blaze a trail in the health care profession through time. The field of radiology is no exception.
Marie Curie (1867 – 1934), a Polish scientist famed for her groundbreaking study in radioactivity, was one such trailblazer. She was a formidable force in introducing medical imaging technology “to the field” in France during World War I. While x-ray machines were already available in large hospitals, Curie wanted to make them more accessible to the front lines. So, she equipped vehicles with x-ray equipment and even drove them to the battlefield herself. She went on to become the Red Cross’s director of radiological services, where she taught doctors and nurses medical imaging procedures.
Fast forward to 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, radiologists worldwide played an invaluable role on the frontlines to make critical medical diagnoses through specialised diagnostic imaging equipment.
Radiology is an appealing career for both men and women and many have built incredible careers and become an inspiration to so many. We interview three of our female radiologists at Morton & Partners to find out what made them choose this specific field of medicine.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue radiology as a career?
Dr Napo Kasirye had this to say:
Radiology allows you to be involved in health care on many levels – from screening and diagnostics to disease monitoring and assessment of treatment response, and interventional procedures which can be diagnostic and therapeutic.
We work as a team within our practice and with our clinical colleagues to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients. Radiology is a continuously evolving field and as new developments are made, we are able to see more, and therefore do more for our patients.
This is what Dr Isabella Meiring had to say:
To me, radiology is the most interesting of all medical specialities. It involves all the disciplines and one often feels like one is solving a puzzle in order to work out a patient’s diagnosis. Constantly advancing technology also makes radiology an exciting field to be involved in. As a woman, it is easier to balance a home and work life than it is with many other specialities.
This is Dr Tamiya Nair‘s story:
I had a “light bulb moment” as a junior doctor. It was the early hours of the morning, and I was ending a busy call. I had taken a patient down to the Radiology department where a very excited radiographer called me to the console of the newly installed CT scanner.
He proceeded to show me all the various ways in which he could reconstruct the images of my patient, who had just been scanned. I watched in awe as he stripped back the various layers of tissue from a 3-D reconstruction – first skin, then bone and brain until only the vessels remained.
It wasn’t long after that I realized radiology was the field for me.
Q: Where did your passion for radiology come from?
Dr Isabella Meiring: My mother is also a radiologist and I loved seeing what she did and listening to her chat about her work.
Dr Tamiya Nair: I’m passionate about learning and technology. I find that as radiology is a platform that allows for both. It is a field that is constantly evolving, and I am driven to learn and evolve with it.
Q: Why do you think there are so few female radiologists in practice?
Dr Isabella Meiring: I think there are many misconceptions as to what radiology entails and not enough exposure to the speciality during the training for one’s medical degree.
Dr Tamiya Nair: Medicine has historically been a male–dominated field and as more females enter the workforce, it’s important that we continue striving toward inclusive work environments. The field of radiology is also one of the “youngest” and fastest growing medical specialities to which undergraduate exposure is often limited. As the field grows, I do hope interest in the field will too.
Q: Do you feel that female radiologists bring another perspective to radiology?
Dr Isabella Meiring: Many female patients feel more comfortable with a woman doctor and would like to have that option. Women’s Imaging is also playing an ever–increasing role in radiology and I think that female radiologists have more empathy in this field.
Dr Tamiya Nair: I believe that there is strength in diversity. By encouraging diversity in the workplace and fostering a collaborative environment, we are able to explore different perspectives, advance creative thinking and innovation. In doing so, we can only enhance the services we offer to our colleagues and patients.
I am fortunate to find myself in such an environment and this contributes significantly to the personal fulfilment I derive from work. I am continually encouraged and supported in my role, by both my female and male colleagues.
Q: Who is your female mentor, and why?
Dr Napo Kasirye: My mother. She embodies all the qualities of what I consider successful. She is kind, confident, optimistic, focused, persistent, and passionate. She has an independent nature and the ability to think big and embrace the bigger picture. These are all qualities that she inspires and nurtures in the people she encounters in her personal and professional capacity and I’m proud to be her daughter. I am because she is.
Dr Isabella Meiring: My mother is my female mentor. Growing up, very few women were doctors and there was a mindset that women could only follow certain careers eg nursing. Because my mother was a doctor, I grew up believing that I (and other women) could do anything we wanted to or put our minds to. Gender is just not a factor. She also has a strong work ethic, is compassionate, loyal and fun. She has also taught me never to base judgement on anyone by looks, gender or race but to see what is inside a person (talking about personality here, not radiological imaging!)
Dr Tamiya Nair: I consider myself fortunate to be surrounded by so many women of strength, that it’s impossible to chose just one! So I’m going to chose to admire Women as a collective of intelligence, support, tenacity, confidence, nurturing, sensitivity, empathy, strength and tenderness.
Q: What is your favourite quote – either about life or being a woman?
Dr Isabella Meiring: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing“ – Edmund Burke
Dr Tamiya Nair: “We all move forward when we recognize how resilient and striking the women around us are.” – Rupi Kaur