More keys to minority retention.
Alter reading the article "Increasing Diversity in Radiologic Technology" (November/December 2003 issue), it became apparent that we are overlooking some very critical issues that must be dealt with before bringing new minority students into radiologic technology' programs. Even though I agree with the academic approach to attracting enthusiastic, intelligent, well educated minority students, I believe that placing them in the current educational and clinical settings is like planting seedlings in a gap den over a toxic waste dump. It is not difficult to see that lack of professional support for the minority student is one of the reasons that retaining minority students is a challenge.
As educators we are well aware of ninny professionals' social attitudes toward students from minority cultures, especially African American students. The affirmative action program has placed a stigma on minority students, giving the impression that these students are accepted by colleges and universities without having worked to achieve the grades. Because negative information is disseminated about minority students, they become tab gets for racist attitudes and socially unacceptable behaviors. In some cases, minority students are recipients of verbal and physical attacks from faculty members, other students and health care personnel. The purpose of these attacks is to undermine minority students' ability to succeed and to keep them in their place.
Even though these racist behaviors are not supposed to be socially acceptable, for years minorities have fallen by the wayside because the stress of racism was too much to bear along with the demands of courses, clinical requirements and the energy required to study for and pass the Registry exam. One must ask the question, who in their right mind would get a student loan to enter a program in which they will be paving for physical and mental abuses and oppression that can lead to long-term, stress-related illnesses?
In reality, the minority student in radiologic technology is in a survivor game where he or she can quickly become an outcast due to racism. Therefore, it is imperative that the environment first be prepared by making sure that all personnel complete diversity training and are monitored to make sure the training is effective. Second, departmental leadership programs must be instituted that focus on teamwork and cooperation to accomplish department goals, rather than on conflict management. Next, minority personnel must be promoted to leadership positions to serve as role models. And finally, radiologic technology programs must include an empowerment section to teach minority students sell: management skills R)r success in radiologic technology.
Open Forum is open to all individuals interested in commenting on matters of concern to the radiologic sciences. Writers should direct their letters to Managing Editor Kathryn Faguy, c/o The American Society of Radiologic Technologists, 15000 Central Ave. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123-3917. Letters may be edited to conform with the Journal's space or style requirements.
Views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the ASRT.
Lazetta Church, M.A., R.T.(R)
Dripping Springs, Tex