Find Your Voice: For Radiology and for Patients

Brewington_Cecelia-20150806-65-Edit-vertThe following post was contributed by Cecelia Brewington, MD, a member of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Colon Cancer Committee.

I recently submitted an op-ed to the Huffington Post urging Medicare to cover CT colonography (CTC) as one avenue to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among African Americans and Hispanics. To my surprise and excitement, they asked me to become a regular contributor to the Huffington Post Black Voices section.

While I am one of many voices to be heard, I will be heard. This is important not only for radiology, but for our patients who may never hear or read important, even lifesaving information, if we don’t provide it. We may not have the monetary resources of major pharmaceutical companies or others for public marketing including televised advertisements, but we do have our voices through social media, traditional media and the printed word.

I want to encourage radiologists to share their knowledge and viewpoints. We serve a vital role in the health care enterprise. What we do saves, extends and improves lives every day.

I plan to write several articles for the Huffington Post throughout the year whenever and wherever I think that the information is needed and can help people live longer, better licolon-4197ves.

I encourage you to look for opportunities in your communities to share your expertise — whether it is directly to patients, with your administrators or with your local media.

The ACR provides several resources to help you brush up on specific issues or subjects prior to any conversations — including those below:

 What are some things you have done in your community to share your expertise?

Which tactics have you found to work particularly well?

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

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For Radiologists, Life Happens

The following post was contributed by Lauren Golding, MD, private practice radiologist in the Winston-Salem, NC, area.

Golding_LaurenThere is no work-life balance. It’s all just life.

As the mother of three daughters (ages 8, 5 and 3) working full-time in a busy private practice, married to a physician, my life is—on my best days—controlled chaos. It is delightful. And exhausting. For most of us, work is more than just work. It’s passion. It’s purpose. It’s an integral part of who we are. Being fully committed to your profession and your family may not be possible on a minute-by-minute basis, but it can be done. I’m no expert, but here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Accept feeling guilty. Then let it go. Every minute of the day offers opportunity to feel guilt. The work-family dichotomy is necessarily a trade-off; you’ll never feel like you’re devoting enough time to either. Remember that your children don’t have to spend every waking moment with you to know they are loved and a priority in your life. I don’t want to feel guilty for working full time. Nor do I want to feel guilty for traveling to national meetings or serving on committees I am passionate about or staying late to help out with a burgeoning work list. Similarly, I shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving on time the day of preschool graduation, or taking vacation, or deciding not to check email until after the kids are in bed. Set your priorities and stick to them.C7JE1MeX4AE2481

Familiarize yourself with the mute button for conference calls attempted in the presence of toddlers.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. You may have to lower any standards you loftily set for your pre-kids, pre-professional self. You should accept that clutter happens. Sleep doesn’t. Boogers get eaten. Vegetables sometimes don’t. Matching clothes are optional. You might find yourself parking your kids in front of a Doc McStuffins episode to buy 30 minutes to review your group’s PQRS submission (or, ahem, write this blog post). They’ll survive. If you are constantly aspiring to the shiny Facebook-ready version of “having it all,” you’re destined for disappointment and burnout.

When signing up for items to bring to class parties, always choose celery. The kids will forgive you if you forget celery. The same is not true for cupcakes.

Have a sense of humor. Life is messy. You can let the absurdity stress you out or you can laugh about it and build an arsenal of toast-worthy stories for your children’s rehearsal dinners. When your three-year-old is sent to time-out at daycare for calling a friend a “Poopy Esophagus,” you offer apologies to the offended and review anatomy with the offender. And when your kids find and “decorate” your ACR certificate, you frame it and display as a reminder of the fact that you really do have it all.  (If you would like to read more from Dr. Golding, you may follow her on Twitter.)

As a radiologist, how have you created work-life balance in your life?

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

Expanding the Fight for Medicare CT Colonography Coverage

Dr. YEEThe following post was contributed by Judy Yee, Md, FACR, chair of the ACR colon Cancer Committee.

A recent study showing a significant rise in younger people developing colorectal cancer (CRC) indicates that we must take a fresh look at who should be screened and how to attract them to do so. This, along with the fact that more than a third of those 50 and older are not getting tested, reinforce that more screening exams must be covered by private insurance and Medicare.

Particularly, we need covered access to less-invasive, patient-centered options like virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography or CTC) if we are to attract more people to be screened and save more lives.

CTC is gaining more acceptance. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) screening 2016 recommendations assigned an “A” grade to a list of screening tests—including­ CTC. Under the Affordable Care Act, this “A” grade triggered a federal mandate that private insurers cover CTC (and the other USPSTF-recognized tests) with no co-pay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) campaign “Screen for Life” also supports the USPSTF recommendation and lists CTC as a recommended exam.

What remains elusive is Medicare coverage for CTC. An expanding group of medical societies and patient advocates, including the American College of Radiology, the American Gastroenterological Association, the National Hispanic Medical Association, Colon Cancer Alliance and others continue to work to gain this Medicare coverage and to ensure continued private insurer coverage of these exams. These groups back the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act (H.R. 1298), which would mandate Medicare CTC coverage.

To inform your privately insured patients that they now have the option of getting a CT colonography, please visit ACR.org/VirtualCT. There, you can download and display materials (available in English and Spanish) to educate patients regarding what CT colonography is, how it works and how to prepare for screening.

I also urge you to send patients who may have questions about these lifesaving exams to RadiologyInfo.org/VirtualCT.

Be sure to follow ACR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and share or like posts, which use the hashtag #virtualCT (virtual colonoscopy).

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