What the ACR YPS Offers Early-Career Radiology Professionals

Vivek Kalia, MD, American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Young and Early Career Professional Section (YPS) Social Media Liaison, contributed this post.

The ACR proudly supports and empowers radiologists — and future radiologists — at all career stages, from medical school to residency, fellowship and beyond. The ACR YPS is specifically dedicated to representing young and early-career professionals— those under the age of 40, or within the first eight years of practice after residency and fellowship training— within the ACR and its chapters.

The ACR YPS empowers early-career professionals through various initiatives and offerings, all of which are organized and managed by the YPS Executive Committee, a committee under the ACR Commission on Membership and Communications. This eight-member group leads with the shared goal of connecting young radiology professionals and helping those individuals navigate the resources of the ACR.

Since becoming the YPS Social Media Liaison in May 2019, I’ve enjoyed interfacing with the other young radiology leaders of the YPS Executive Committee. The best part of our committee is that we each draw upon a wealth of prior leadership and life experiences which help us bring unique and diverse perspectives to what we do. We are also an incredibly diverse group, culturally and in our practice settings, which adds a richness to our conversations and helps us balance needs of various groups we represent. In my particular role, it has been my great pleasure to serve as one of the faces of the ACR to the world – helping to curate content and educate members and trainees about what we do and events we’re planning.

Looking back, I’m incredibly proud of my Executive Committee colleagues. We’ve made considerable strides in outreach to young professionals who are interested in radiology and/or are early in their career through efforts such as webinars, podcasts and governance within the ACR. Through this incredibly trying year of COVID-19, we’ve maintained our programming and stayed very well connected with each other and with our constituents. I’d like to highlight a few key successes of ours this year.

The YPS webinar series kicked off with a joint session hosted by the YPS, ACR Resident and Fellow Section (RFS) and the American Association for Women in Radiology,  “Job Hunting During an Economic Crisis.” We also hosted a YPS-Radiology Leadership Institute® Webinar: “Practice Leadership During COVID-19” and a YPS-JACR® Webinar: “Pandemic Impact on Private Practice Recruitment: 2020 and Beyond.” In case you missed these, you can watch the free recordings on-demand.

We also partnered with YPS member Cody R. Quirk, MD, on The Hounsfield Unit Podcast. The podcast features bite-sized, meaningful, relevant and honest discussions about topics affecting young radiologists in this country, such as addressing health inequities in our patient populations, wellness, and venture capital groups and radiology.

On the leadership front, ACR councilors Taj Kattapuram, MD; J. Paul Nielsen, MD; and Andy Moriarity, MD; sponsored Resolution 35, adopted by the ACR Council during ACR 2020. This resolution called on the ACR Bylaws Committee to amend the ACR bylaws to allow the RFS and YPS, as sections, to submit resolutions – allowing these sections to play a more active role in the ACR governance process. This was a critical step forward as the unique needs of trainees and early-career radiologists must be represented within the organization. A bylaws amendment to implement the resolution passed in 2020 will be considered by the Council at the upcoming ACR annual meeting.

Additionally, the ACR YPS Executive Committee drafted a resolution related to partnership-track associates of private practices, specifically addressing a recommendation for transparency and shared decision-making during outside-investor purchases of physician practices. This resolution, sponsored by councilors from the YPS and RFS, will be considered by the Council during ACR 2021 as Res. 25.

If you’re reading this blog and would like to join in our efforts, consider running for the 2021–2022 ACR YPS Executive Committee. We’re looking for dedicated, young professional volunteers who are ready to empower fellow YPS members to be involved in state radiology societies, amplify the voice of YPS members and foster leadership development.

  • Learn more about the ACR YPS, and then apply to join the YPS Executive Committee by April 20.

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Radiology Confronts the COVID-19 Pandemic

Matthew S. Davenport, MD, Associate Professor of Radiology and Urology, Service Chief of Radiology and Associate Chair of Operations in the Division of Abdominal Radiology at the University of Michigan, contributed this post.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a broad effect on patients, providers, payors and healthcare organizations. A little more than a year after the world declared a public health emergency, we are only beginning to understand the full consequences of this pandemic.

I had the pleasure of collaborating with a handful of colleagues, including Tom Fruscello, MBA; Mythreyi Chatfield, PhD; Stefanie Weinstein, MD; William F. Sensakovic, PhD; and David B. Larson, MD, MBA, on a recent study highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on computed tomography (CT) volumes across the United States (U.S.) using data from the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Dose Index Registry. While you can read the full article in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, I’m pleased to be able to share top takeaways and speculate about how they may relate to our future in this blog.

In spring 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance that advised medical facilities to reschedule non-urgent outpatient visits, which included non-urgent imaging examinations and image-guided procedures. Soon thereafter—due to a combination of this guidance and many other factors—there was an abrupt, rapid decline in radiology volume.

At its nadir in Spring 2020, there were approximately 50% less CT examinations being performed per day compared to historical predictions. Over the course of several months, as we improved our safety protocols and learned better how to safely care for patients with known or unknown COVID-19 in the healthcare environment, those lost imaging examinations slowly recovered. However, even to this day, we still haven’t reached expected levels. In the U.S., there are approximately 15% less CT examinations being performed per day compared to what historical data would predict. You can track this ongoing disparity by visiting the National Radiology Data Registry publications highlights on the ACR website.

Though the partial recovery was encouraging, it remains unclear to what extent these continued lost diagnostic tests are having a detrimental effect on patient care. For example, decreased patient engagement with healthcare during the pandemic probably resulted in delayed diagnosis and delayed care of other diseases. This trend was most substantial in urban communities, communities with a greater population density, communities with greater unemployment and communities with a greater proportion of people of color.

COVID-19 exacerbated pre-existing disparities in healthcare that are prevalent in the U.S. Already underserved populations have seen the gap between needed and provided care widen during the pandemic. We must take action to ensure that all of our patients can access quality healthcare.

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Looking to the Future of the AMA RUC

Ezequiel “Zeke” Silva III, MD, FACR, Immediate Past Chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Commission on Economics, and Chair of the American Medical Association (AMA) Multispecialty Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC), contributed this post.

My appointment as Chair of the AMA RUC started March 1. Many — but not all — radiologists know of the RUC and what it does. In this ACR Voice of Radiology blog, I’m excited to share more information on the RUC and provide insight into my goals and aspirations in this new role.

The RUC’s foremost task is to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care possible and that physicians have the resources to provide that care. The RUC convenes a panel of experts across multiple medical specialties. The panel applies a high level of clinical expertise to identify changes in clinical practice and makes recommendations to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services based on clinical experience and objective data. The result is a credible set of valuation recommendations to help enable the highest level of care possible. 

The RUC has been formulating recommendations for approximately 30 years. As medicine has changed and innovated, so has the RUC. Our nuts-and-bolts task is to help maintain the resource-based relative value scale, which determines relative value units (RVUs). These RVUs are imputed into a broader formula to help determine payment rates with the Medicare Physician Payment Schedule.

The ACR has held a permanent seat on the RUC since its inception, and I am honored to be the first radiologist to hold the position of Chair — but I am certainly not the first to make lasting contributions to the RUC. The list of past radiologists who have done so is long and includes James M. Moorefield, MD, FACR; William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR; James P. Borgstede, MD, FACR; Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR, Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR; and our current RUC panel member, William D. Donovan, MD, MPH, FACR.

My goal is to translate the innovative mindset, which I have learned in years of service to the ACR, into effective actions from the RUC. The ACR has been a leader in digital technology, and I view digital medicine as an important opportunity for the AMA and RUC. For example, telemedicine, telehealth, remote patient monitoring and digital therapeutics are becoming more commonplace, often informed by augmented intelligence. The RUC will play an important role in defining the taxonomy around these technologies and will influence how payment for these services occurs.

It is important to note that each member of the RUC is an independent participant. We do not represent our respective specialties. In fact, I will, by rule, be excluded from discussions around radiology services to maintain that independence. Nonetheless, I am a diagnostic and interventional radiologist, and the opportunity to carry that title to a position that influences all of medicine is a responsibility I hold dearly.

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