Meet the ACR Leadership: William T. Thorwarth, Jr., MD, FACR
This is an installment of a series titled “Meet the ACR Leadership.” Throughout the series, we interview the ACR Leadership to get insight into their background and involvement in the ACR. For this installment, we talk with William T. Thorwarth, Jr., MD, FACR.
You have held multiple leadership positions in the ACR, from President and now to Chief Executive Officer. How did you initially get involved and what keeps you involved?
It all started in the mid 80’s when I joined a radiology practice group in North Carolina. My senior member was very involved with the ACR, and so I started with the state chapter. In 1986, I was asked to be the alternate counselor, and was given the opportunity to go to the ACR national meeting. I then was eager to get more involved, and started with getting involved with state chapter leadership. I then was appointed to the Quality and Safety committee, which helped develop the ACR Practice Parameters [then called “Standards”], and then eventually became chair. In 1994, I found my niche in the economics sector. Subsequently I was commissioned into the AMA’s CPT committee process. Each position seemed to naturally lead to the other, and these different positions lead to me to serving on the ACR Board of Chancellors and becoming ACR president. This background led to the opportunity to now serve as the chief executive officer.
How do the roles of President and CEO of the ACR differ?
The role of President is a 1 year position for an ACR volunteer leader, and the primary role is serving on the executive committee and as an ambassador for the College including speaking at meetings. Every other year, the chairman of the Board becomes the president. I was elected via the non-Chair track.
The CEO is the head of the ACR staff, and functions to support the Board and Council in activities. The CEO also makes sure the board is fully informed, and conveys messages to the ACR members.
What has been one of your favorite experiences/projects that you’ve been involved with during your time with the ACR?
My involvement with the ACR economics sector, as well as my experience with coding work in the Coding and Nomenclature Committee for ACR as well as the CPT Editorial Panel for the AMA, that I was also able to chair for 4 years. It was very interesting to witness the evolution of the AMA CPT committee, which started as a group of 15 people without much input and evolved with increasing transparency to become an open meeting that anyone could attend, including vendors, etc. with signed confidentiality agreements.
The theme of recent ACR meetings has been "The Crossroads of Radiology." In your opinion, where do you see radiology in 10-20 years once we've crossed the current crossroads?
I want to quote the author Jim Collins, who wrote multiple books, generally about companies and why they succeeded, including Built to Last, Good to Great, and Great by Choice. In Great by Choice, there is a Q&A section, in which he states that “there is no new norm, there is a constant state of evolution with challenges and opportunities.” I think that is true of radiology today.
The ACR’s Imaging 3.0 strategy stresses that radiologists have to be integrated into the entire decision making and consulting portion of patient care. Patient care is a team sport, and we’re integral to that. Technological advances have been remarkable and I forsee the future holding newer ways that will help us better accomplish that and become better integrated into the care continuum, including things such as registries that demonstrate our value . As radiologists, we need to embrace accountability. With artificial intelligence on the horizon, radiology has been involved with guiding the appropriate us of this technology, and I forsee it as a helpful supplement to radiologists in the future.
What words of wisdom do you have for radiology residents and fellows who are interested in pursuing a future in ACR leadership?
First of all, congratulations on picking a terrific specialty and career. Look for an area of interest outside the clinical realm, and how you can participate and get involved. For example, hospital committees and medical staff leadership--integrate yourself into those committees. Say yes early on in careers, look for opportunities, and step up if you’re willing to commit the time. It’s important to read the non-clinical material as well, such as in the JACR, which has information and articles on practice management and the overall picture of radiology in health care. Finally, enjoy the relationships you develop during these experiences, and build them.
By Shannon Kim, MD, 2nd year radiology resident at Eastern Virginia Medical School
2nd year radiology resident at Eastern Virginia Medical School.