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Dr. Valerie Jackson: the 7th female ACR Gold Medal winner

  • Kirti Magudia
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: University of California, San Francisco, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, 1700 4th St, Byers Hall, Suite 102, San Francisco, CA 94158, United States of America.
    Affiliations
    Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, CA, United States of America
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  • Elizabeth K. Arleo
    Affiliations
    Department of Radiology, Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY, United States of America
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Published:December 09, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinimag.2020.11.043

      Keywords

      1. International day of radiology

      The International Day of Radiology was established collaboratively by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the European Society of Radiology (ESR) and the American College of Radiology (ACR). This day has been celebrated annually on November 8 since 2012 to promote awareness of the role of medical imaging in healthcare. Since 2017, Clinical Imaging and the American Association for Women Radiologists (AAWR) have celebrated the International Day of Radiology by recognizing the life and achievements of outstanding women in the history of radiology, previously featuring Marie Curie (2017), Lucy Frank Squire (2018) and Alice Ettinger (2019).
      • Spalluto L.B.
      Marie Curie – stirring the pot.
      • Smith E.
      • Spalluto L.B.
      • Porter K.K.
      Dr. Lucy Frank Squire: fundamentally better together.
      • Magudia K.Dr.
      Alice Ettinger: Pioneer of fluoroscopy and exceptional teacher.
      In the past year, this has expanded to develop a collection of articles highlighting the lives and achievements of female ACR Gold Medal winners, as Curie and Ettinger were a part of this small cohort. This article focuses on the seventh female ACR Gold Medal winner, Dr. Valerie Jackson.

      2. Early life and training

      Valerie Jackson was born in California in 1952 and spent most of her childhood in South Bend, Indiana. Her father was a pathologist and met her mother during her brief stint as an X-ray technologist. Jackson went to Indiana University and changed her major no less than 11 times, considering psychology, pre-veterinary medicine and art. Ultimately, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences and went on to medical school at Indiana University.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      In medical school, several factors propelled Jackson towards radiology. The first was a love of visual arts, including photography and art. In fact, she took two semesters of scientific photography during college. She was also was part of a group of eight medical students, one of whom had a father who was a radiologist. He would host them for monthly “radiation” rounds to review radiographs at a lightbox in his basement. Approximately half of this group ended up in radiology, likely influenced by this early exposure to radiology. Finally, when Jackson narrowed down her choices for possible specialties to pathology and radiology, her own father encouraged her to choose radiology as a growing field with a promising future. The decision to enter radiology was sealed after she did her radiology electives.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      3. Academic career

      Dr. Jackson completed diagnostic radiology residency at Indiana University in 1982. Drawn to the mix of subspecialized clinical work, teaching and research available in academic radiology, she joined the Department of Radiology at Indiana University. She was soon made section chief of breast imaging and became a full professor in 1990. In 1993, Dr. Jackson became the residency program director, a role that she held for 10 years. In 2004, after one year as interim department chair, she become the department chair, a role in which she also served for 10 years, overseeing the merger of the Indiana University department of radiology with a nearby private practice.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      ,
      • Rubin G.D.
      Episode 15: getting involved, Valerie P. Jackson. Radiol Leadersh Inst “taking lead”.

      4. Involvement in organized medicine

      Dr. Jackson has been involved in multiple radiology societies at the highest levels including the American Board of Radiology (ABR), the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), and the ACR, as well as the Society of Chairs of Academic Radiology (SCARD) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI).
      • Rubin G.D.
      Episode 15: getting involved, Valerie P. Jackson. Radiol Leadersh Inst “taking lead”.
      Dr. Jackson began volunteering with the ABR early in her career as an oral boards examiner and a contributor of questions for the written exam. She was appointed to the board of trustees in 2001 and was chosen to be the executive director in 2014, which was her self-proclaimed dream job.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      This hands-on position involved overseeing exam administration and the exam content for the 4 specialties under the umbrella of the ABR: diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, radiation oncology and medical physics. Dr. Jackson led a staff of 100 ABR staff and 1300 volunteers to implement many changes during her tenure as executive director, including revamping the ABR volunteer organization and structure to enhance exam content and production as well as implementing the Online Longitudinal Assessment as a means of satisfying part 3 of Maintenance of Certification.
      • American Board of Radiology
      Our history.
      ,
      • American Board of Radiology
      ABR Executive Director to retire.
      Coincident with the rise of social media, both the ABR and often Dr. Jackson herself increasingly came under scrutiny, but remained focused on certifying that diplomates demonstrated “the requisite knowledge, skill and understanding of their disciplines to the benefit of patients” in the face of changing times.
      • Rubin G.D.
      Episode 15: getting involved, Valerie P. Jackson. Radiol Leadersh Inst “taking lead”.
      ,
      • American Board of Radiology
      What we do.
      Dr. Jackson also became the president of the RSNA for the 2018–2019 term.
      • Thakar S.
      Valerie P. Jackson named new RSNA president.
      The RSNA, she shared, is her favorite professional society in radiology due to its mission to “promote excellence in patient care and health care delivery through education, research and technologic innovation”
      • Radiological Society of North America
      Strategic plan.
      as well as its relatively higher inclusion of women in leadership compared to some other societies. In fact, Dr. Jackson has attended every RSNA annual meeting since her third year of residency.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      Dr. Jackson began volunteering with the ACR quite early in her career. Eventually, she became a member of the Commission on Education, was appointed to the ACR Board of Chancellors and was chosen to chair the Commission on Education. In 2008, Dr. Jackson received a call from the chair of the ACR Awards & Honors Committee notifying her that she was the recipient of the ACR Gold Medal for her contributions to radiology education and advocacy for breast imaging on behalf of ACR and SBI, which was a “huge, unexpected honor”.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      Furthermore, she founded and funded the Valerie P. Jackson, MD, Education Fellowship, which was created in her honor to “offer direct exposure to the operations of the ACR Education team, [providing] educational activities for radiologists, radiation oncologists and medical physicists through enduring materials, Education Center courses, and online learning”.
      • American College of Radiology
      Valerie P. Jackson Education Fellowship.
      Other major awards Dr. Jackson has won include Gold Medals by the Indiana Radiological Society, SBI and the Association of University Radiologists.

      5. Reflections

      Dr. Jackson relates that she is a quiet advocate for women, dating back in part to when she was a resident and was dismayed by private practices openly saying that they would never consider hiring a woman. She also did not like that certain subspecialties were associated with either male or female radiologists such as interventional radiology and breast imaging, respectively. As a new attending, she offered not to take vacation when pregnant to her department chair so that she could have a six-week paid maternity leave. When she realized how stressful this plan was in practice, she asked to work part time, but was told that a part time position was not an option. Now that her son is 37 and a successful medical physicist living in Melbourne, Australia, she hopes that female radiologists are or will be better supported in the future.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      Most recently, in February 2020, Dr. Jackson participated in the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Parental Leave Workshop to help brainstorm solutions to provide necessary parental leave to all graduate medical education trainees. Ultimately, Dr. Jackson reports that she is disappointed that there has not been a substantial improvement in recruiting women into radiology over the last 25 years.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      Dr. Jackson's advice to the next generation of radiologists is simple, yet powerful:
      • 1)
        Keep an open mind when presented with opportunities.
      • 2)
        Say yes when people offer you opportunities, but make sure to follow through on what you say you are going to do, try to do it on time and to the best of your ability.
      • 3)
        Show genuine interest and a desire to be involved, which will take you far.
      • 4)
        Have empathy for others.

        Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      It was following these practices that propelled Dr. Jackson to the highest echelon of radiology.
      Dr. Jackson also believes that being mentored and mentoring others was critical to her success. She benefitted immensely from the opportunities that others gave her. As a leader, she relishes being able to do the same for others: “I got to do all these great things; now it is somebody else's turn”.

      Valerie P. Jackson, personal communication, October 15, 2020.

      6. Testimonials

      Dr. Jackson has touched many individuals throughout her career. Dr. Robert W. Holden was the chief of radiology at the site where Valerie Jackson initially practiced clinically and their careers remain entwined for decades. After he was promoted to department chair, she became resident program director. Ultimately, she became department chair. Dr. Holden remarks, “She is an absolute superstar…she can evoke enthusiasm and provide leadership such that people wish to follow her”.

      Robert W. Holden, personal communication, October 19, 2020.

      Dr. Mary C. Mahoney, department chair of radiology at the University of Cincinnati, worked closely with Dr. Jackson at the RSNA. She reflects on Dr. Jackson's career: “[She] is a remarkable woman, friend, mentor, mother, and radiologist. She has achieved more in her professional life than most of us can dream of accomplishing—and she has done it with a great deal of humor and humility. It is no wonder she has earned so much respect and so many friends across the globe”.

      Mary C. Mahoney, personal communication, October 16, 2020.

      Dr. Marc D. Kohli, associate professor of radiology and director of clinical informatics at the University of California, San Francisco, knew of Dr. Jackson as a medical student at Indiana University. When he stayed on for radiology residency at Indiana University, she supported his efforts to improve the residency with a wiki document to share institutional knowledge, to customize his fellowship training with a mix of informatics and abdominal imaging, and to become involved in global health, all experiences that pushed him towards a career in academic radiology. Currently the chair of the Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) board of directors, Dr. Kohli appreciates the impact of Dr. Jackson's mentorship and sponsorship: “Recognizing how much I was able to thrive when given space and time to grow, throughout my career I've tried to follow [her] example constantly looking for ways to sponsor and mentor the next generation of radiologists. I'm tremendously grateful for the support [she] provided, and don't think that I would be where I am today without her”.

      Marc D. Kohli, personal communciation, October 19, 2020.

      7. Closing

      Dr. Jackson is celebrated for her leadership in radiology and contributions to radiology education. Her influence on the field of radiology is manifold, both in terms of policy and the many colleagues and trainees she touched.

      Funding

      This work was supported in parts by the NIH T32EB001631 , Radiological Society of North America R&E Foundation and the Society of Abdominal Radiology .

      Declaration of competing interest

      None.

      Acknowledgments

      The authors thanks Dr. Valerie P. Jackson, Dr. Robert W. Holden, Dr. Mary C. Mahoney, and Dr. Marc D. Kohli for agreeing to be interviewed for this piece.

      References

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        Marie Curie – stirring the pot.
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        Alice Ettinger: Pioneer of fluoroscopy and exceptional teacher.
        Clin Imaging. 2019; 58: A1-A2https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinimag.2019.09.004
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      3. Mary C. Mahoney, personal communication, October 16, 2020.

      4. Marc D. Kohli, personal communciation, October 19, 2020.