The Missing Link

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This post was contributed by Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR, Professor of Radiology and Medical Imaging and Public Health Sciences, the University of Virginia and founding editor of the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR)

Having spent the past sixteen years helping found the JACR and overseeing its development – not to mention eight additional years as editor-in-chief of two other radiology journals – I feel qualified to speak to the joys and occasional miseries of a career in medical journalism. On the plus side, there is no such thing as a journalistic emergency. Journal editors sleep soundly and without interruption. I like that I am the first person to know new things. I learn from the manuscripts submitted to the Journal about important advances and the creative ponderings of some of the best radiology has to offer. I would enjoy this aspect of being an editor even more if I weren’t ethically bound not to tell a soul about what I know. Finally, guiding JACR gave me an expansive, monthly pulpit from which to expound on the issues of the day.

Of course, no job is perfect. Even editing a medical journal has its downsides. Most of these are petty and not worth mentioning. One thing that does chronically bother me, however, is how little recognition our specialty grants to successful researchers, even those whose research and writings expand the horizons of our specialty. Over the roughly twenty-five years I’ve been involved in American College of Radiology (ACR) leadership, member surveys have consistently shown that what members value most is the ACR’s successes in government relations and economics. Members tend to rank research in the lowest third, and occasionally at the very bottom, in their appreciation of the various College activities.

What survey respondents overlook is that no matter how persuasive our arguments to government regulatory and reimbursement agencies, without supportive research our efforts would be doomed from the outset. Consider the answers to the following rhetorical questions:

  • Would there be reimbursement for PET imaging in cancer without the National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR)?
  • CT lung cancer screening, if not for the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST)?
  • CT colonography without the National CT Colonography Trial?
  • How many exams, worth how much in billings, did just these few exemplary research studies add to our practices?
  • Who designed and led these research efforts? And again, these are just a few of the many researchers whose accomplishments have contributed to the vibrancy of our specialty.

Like a shark, radiology must keep swimming (i.e. innovating) or we will cease to exist. So say “thank you” to your friendly neighborhood researcher. While ACR’s research provides no guarantee that we will be the beneficiaries of that research down the line, it is a certainty that without ACR research developing new opportunities for improved patient care, radiology will stagnate. To stay ahead of both our human and robotic competition, we must continue to progress. By better understanding the critical role research plays in furthering our economics and government relations agenda and offering their moral and financial support, ACR members help assure the continued success of our specialty.

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This is Our ACR

Macomber_Meghan_LCThis post was contributed by Meghan Macomber, MD, MS, a radiation oncologist and the radiation oncology representative on the American College of Radiology Young and Early Career Professional Section (ACR YPS) Executive Committee

I was fortunate to get involved with leadership positions in the American College of Radiology (ACR) as a resident. Like many young professionals, I was eager to pursue the unique opportunities these positions afforded me to attend both virtual and in-person meetings, to network with other leaders and to identify – and meet with – mentors.

These opportunities and relationships also helped me gain new perspectives on issues relating to both radiology and radiation oncology, and emphasized just how important it is to stay involved and engaged throughout all phases of our careers.

I recently graduated and started a new position with Sutter Health Radiation Oncology in Sacramento. Like many new physicians, I’ve found it can be overwhelming to start a new career while figuring out how to balance competing demands on your time. What should you focus on moving forward? How can you stay involved in the things that matter most?

For me, one of those priorities is patient quality and safety. I recently applied for – and received – an ACR Innovation Fund grant along with Dr. Matthew Spraker (an attending radiation oncology physician at Washington University) to develop educational programming that will improve patient quality and safety. This is an opportunity to advance work that I care about – and one I likely wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for my ACR membership.

The ACR offers a myriad of opportunities for leadership, networking and continued education, including lecture series, leadership courses and webinars to help you stay up to date with important issues ranging from the upcoming PAMA-AUC deadline to Leadership Essentials and everywhere in between.

I look forward to staying involved as I continue my career, and encourage all of you to do the same. Renew your ACR membership by December 31st so that you don’t miss a single opportunity to advance your career and add value for your patients.

  • What do you value most about your ACR membership?
  • What advice would you give to others about the importance of membership renewal?
  • What professional experiences and expertise have you gained from your ACR membership?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

Radiologists and Girl Scouts Are More Alike Than You Realize

DrAscherThis post was contributed by Susan M. Ascher, MD, Professor, Vice Chair of Research, and Co-Chief of Abdominal Imaging at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.; and President of the Society of Body Computed Tomography and MR

What do Girls Scouts and radiologists have in common? That’s what 4th year Georgetown University Hospital Radiologist Dr. Nancy Kim and I set out to discover this past weekend when we spent time with a local high school Girl Scout troop exploring what it means to be a radiologist. Given that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is one of Girl Scouts’ four core foundations in leadership, radiology was a natural fit.

We started the program asking a series of questions: Are radiologists physicians? Yes. Do radiologists take the images? Sometimes. Do radiologists have patient contact? Yes. How many years does it take to be a radiologist? 13+. Are there many women radiologists? We need more.

We then played a “Spot the Difference” game to introduce them to what radiologists do daily – analyze images. Next, we gave the girls a series of image pairs to test their observational and deductive skills; for example, a normal wrist paired with a wrist with a colles’ fracture. We not only asked them to identify the differences between the image pairs, but we also encouraged them to explain their thought process. Tentative at first, soon the girls were raising their hands and shouting the answers and explanations.

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We ended the day with cookies (natch) and a Q&A. After we dispelled the notion that “Grey’s Anatomy” is an accurate depiction of hospital life, the girls asked about opportunities in radiology. We spoke about the successes women in radiology have achieved and the areas where more work needs to be done. We shared our hope that young women like themselves would be part of our future.

We concluded that Girls Scouts and radiologists have much in common — in fact, women radiologists embody many of the values enshrined by Girls Scouts: to have a strong sense of self; seek challenges and learn from setbacks; display positive values; take on leadership positions; and identify and solve problems!

Urban Dictionary defines a STEMinist as an advocate for increasing the presence of women in science, technology, engineering and math—I think that Dr. Kim and I were STEMinists that afternoon, and would challenge you to be STEMinist as well.

And we don’t have to wait until these young leaders reach high school! You can use resources from the newly launched RadInfo 4 Kids to help children of any age learn more about medical imaging, or replicate the efforts of a group of more than 20 ACR members who helped answer questions from an inquisitive second grade class earlier this year on Twitter.

So step away from the PACS station, step out of the dark room and reach out to your local Girls Scouts troops or other youth organizations that empower young women—it’s another opportunity to showcase our specialty, prove that #RadsHaveAFace and ensure radiology’s relevance in the coming years.

  • Have you shared what it means to be a radiologist with the young women in your community?
  • What are you doing to attract more women to our profession?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).