Meet the ACR Leadership: Cheri Canon, MD, FACR

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This is an installment of a series titled “Meet the ACR Leadership.” Throughout the series, we will interview the ACR Leadership to get insight into their background and involvement in the ACR.For this installment, we will be interviewing Cheri Canon, MD, who is the current Vice President of the ACR. She is also the past Chair of the Commission on Education. Dr. Canon is the chair of the University of Alabama Department of Radiology.

You have progressed through multiple roles in the ACR. How did you get involved in the ACR and what keeps you involved?

I was originally invited to attend the annual ACR meeting, AMCLC as a resident representative, when the meeting was limited to governance and advocacy and before the formation of the Resident and Fellow Section of the ACR. I was then invited as a committee member, then chair of the GI section of the in-training exam (DXIT).

Finally, with my educational background, I was asked to sit on the Board of Chancellors as the Chair for the Commission on Education. This was a big leap, as my appointment began with the failed merger between the ACR and ARRS. ACR had to recreate its entire educational portfolio, and as the chair for the Commission on Education, my team and I had the unique opportunity to build an educational platform from the ground up. By the time we were finished, we had over 160 engaged and very bright volunteers on the commission in additional to a remarkable staff. Getting to work with these interesting people is what has kept me engaged in the ACR.

You are the immediate past Chair for the Commission on Education. What did your role entail? Is there a particular project that you are most proud of?

My role as the chair for the Commission on Education was to direct the educational activities of the College. All of our projects are special to me; all in some way are my babies! As chair, I was able to work with a slightly different subset of people, both volunteers and staff, with each project, which I very much loved and found so stimulating.

I would have to say that the project that I am most proud of is the transition of the ACR’s annual meeting, from the standard AMCLC format to the current day meeting for all members. Before 2015, only a small subset of people ( around 700) attended the annual meeting in Washington D.C., and these were mainly counselors. I was the program chair for ACR 2015 and ACR 2016, and the new format entailed a markedly expanded educational component.

It was a significant transformation, and I love managing change. We created the entire portfolio of courses offered at the new meeting. This transition to an all-member meeting was designed to engage the entire membership. We crafted the format and the topics, and recruited the lecturers. We purposely set out for the format of the ACR meeting to be unique; instead of focusing on traditional clinical content, we capitalized on the things that make the ACR special, like AIRP® and the Education Center, as well as the Radiology Leadership Institute (RLI)®. Designing the new conference was a unique experience and a great opportunity to work with a lot of people and pull together different aspects of radiology that aren’t included at other meetings.

You currently serve as the ACR vice president and are on the Board of Chancellors. What is the role of the board and what does the vice presudent do?

The vice presidency is a completely different role than serving as the chair for the Commission on Education. It is a leadership role for which one typically has served on the board for a number of years. The vice president also serves on the executive committee, which facilitates the strategic planning for the college.

As part of my role as vice president, I serve as a member of the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR). The CAR is a founding chapter of the ACR. I sit on their board, which enables me to better understand their unique health care system and serve as a liaison back to the states. 

I must say that my most fun duty as vice president will be the opportunity to carry the mace and lead the procession at the ACR 2017 fellow convocation. The College bequeaths fellowship to approximately 10 percent of its members, and leading the procession is a great honor. 

Do you have any advice for residents interested in pursuing leadership within the ACR?

I am so excited to see engaged members of the RFS; it really energizes the College. I would suggest, especially as a young radiologist, to say yes to every opportunity and if given that opportunity, do a great job! Having that breadth of exposure is so important, and it brings great opportunities your way. You may experience something new and unexpected. It may ignite something or open new doors, and it is a lot of fun! Be passionate and leave a positive mark on whatever you touch. Bring energy to your engagements; this will be recognized, and you will be given more opportunities. It is a positive feedback loop!

By Michele Retrouvey, chief resident at Eastern Virginia Medical School

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