Breaking down barriers

Friday 21 October 2022

In honour of Black History Month, Chiluba Musonda, a specialty trainee (ST1) in radiology in Norwich, reflects on how becoming a mentee through the RadReach mentoring scheme has helped to break down barriers.

RadReach is an RCR collaboration with Widening Participation Medics Network (WPMN) aimed at encouraging under-represented groups to choose a career in clinical oncology or clinical radiology.

When I reflect on becoming a mentee through the RadReach scheme last year, it was easily one of the best decisions I’ve made in my pursuit of becoming a radiologist. The assistance I’ve received throughout the scheme – and continue to receive – is integral to my current progress in radiology. And the diversity represented not only by mentees but also the mentors on the scheme, has inspired me to believe I could one day be a radiology consultant/registrar.

In both my medical school and professional life, I’ve only ever met one black female consultant (who was not a radiologist) and this lack of representation can sometimes be a bit disheartening as it’s difficult to picture yourself in a role where people like you aren’t represented. Representation matters and it was this part of the scheme that really helped to break down this mental barrier which can prove to be one of the most difficult things to overcome.

The greatest benefit from being a mentee has been having such an encouraging mentor. At times I’ve found myself really struggling and feeling overwhelmed by the high level of competition in radiology. But throughout every step of the way – from the application process and portfolio, through to interview – my mentor Dr Samantha Fossey has given me tips, encouragement, little pick-me-up texts and even mock interviews. I feel very lucky to be able to call on Samantha throughout my future career.

I would definitely (and have!) recommend the RadReach scheme to anyone who would like to pursue a career in radiology. Not only will you work with a mentor who is happy and willing to give up their time to share their knowledge and experience, but you’ll also have access to a range of other people who can provide answers to questions you’d never even thought to ask and give you a realistic insight into the career.