Meet the ACR Leadership: Howard Fleishon, MD, FACR, MMM
For this installment, I will be interviewing Howard Fleishon, MD, who is the current Secretary/Treasurer of the ACR. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Commission on Government Relations.
He is a past speaker of the ACR Council and the current chair of the executive committee of the ACR Foundation. Additionally, Dr. Fleishon is the Division Director of Community Radiology Specialists at Emory University.
You have been involved in many facets of the ACR. How did you get involved in the ACR and what has kept you involved?
I was very fortunate to come up through the ranks of the Arizona state chapter. Soon after I started in private practice, I began to attend the chapter meetings. During my training, it was emphasized that being part of organized radiology, particularly organizations such as the ACR, was important to my career and professional growth. It proved to be a great way to network with others in the Phoenix area outside of my own group. I was appointed to several commissions and subsequently leadership positions. Participation at the ACR annual meeting as a chapter leader and then as a Councilor motivated me to get more active in the ACR Council.
I stay involved mostly because I see the real value of the organization. It has an important place not only for us as radiologists but for the profession, our practices and for our patients. The ACR is the mostly widely recognized advocacy voice for Radiology in Washington, but its multi-faceted activities in a wide range of areas keep us moving forward and innovating. On a personal level, the College has provided tremendous opportunities to meet incredible individuals and contribute back to radiology.
You are the Vice Chair of the Commission on Government Relations. What is the role of the commission and what is your role as vice chair?
The Government Relations Commission and its department are one of the marque components of the College. The department is made up of 11 staff. Together, we are widely recognized as the most effective organization in representing radiology on Capitol Hill. Most other organizations look to the ACR for advocacy. We work with many other organizations in radiology, medicine and beyond to represent the profession, our members, and our patients. The Commission is made up of ACR leadership, physician volunteers, and staff who work with the ACR Council to determine the direction and strategy.
While I work closely with the leadership and staff, my role has been to reach out to the membership and raise awareness of why advocacy is so important. For example, our grassroots program needed to grow its support of the membership. We established the Radiology Advocacy Network (RAN) to develop state-based programs specifically to increase our response rates to our calls to action when we ask members to immediately contact their congressional representatives about legislation that is being considered. Historically, medical societies realize response rates of about 1-5 Percent. RAN, under its leadership by Andrew Wu, MD, and now David C. Youmans, MD, FACR, we have been able to get those rates to about 25 percent. Along with developing social media and other tools, we are leveraging our successes to reach out to more members.
You are the Secretary/Treasurer of the ACR. What does this role entail?
I am grateful to have the trust and confidence of the Board of Chancellors (BOC) in filling these duties. My responsibilities include assuring that we have appropriate documentation of our meetings. As treasurer, I work closely with our CFO, Diane Mullis, and the ACR finance team. Since a significant revenue source of the College flows from member dues, our pledge is to be responsible, accountable, transparent and maintain financial sustainability as underscored in the ACR Strategic Plan. Recently, we implemented several programs not only to streamline the accounting and budget process, but also to utilize projections and forecasts to more accurately chart our financial commitments and opportunities.
As an officer of the College, I also sit on the Executive Committee, which is the emissary of the Board in between its meetings. I also chair the Budget and Finance Committee of the BOC, which provides additional oversight and expertise.
What has been your favorite activity/project in the ACR?
Complicated question. Interacting with the staff of the College is perhaps the most consistent satisfier for me. We have a very special collection of professionals who are experts in their fields. They know and appreciate what we do as providers. The staff is as passionate as we are about medical imaging and the value that we provide. It’s been a privilege to experience the culture that the ACR leadership and staff have built and sustained.
As far as projects, the list is long. Although I risk missing a few, I think the Harvey Neiman Health Policy Institute® is one of the most important initiatives of the ACR in the past several years. Also the Radiology Leadership Institute® (RLI) in demonstrating our commitment to developing leaders for our practices, the profession and beyond is a profound statement. The IT projects are too long to include here. Also ACRIN® and our clinical research investment, providing the innovations that become part of clinical practices, is often an overlooked membership value.
What is your advice for residents and fellows interested in pursuing leadership in the ACR?
You have chosen a wonderful profession that will provide intellectual stimulation and professional satisfaction throughout your career. Despite the hype, medical imaging is not going away and in all probability will become increasingly important to medicine and health care delivery systems. Right now, you might be laser-focused on learning as much as you can in order to pass the Boards. But there are many other facets to the profession. One of the possibilities is leadership. We will always need talented people to guide our organizations and practices. The College has dedicated itself to deliver leadership training through the RLI. If you are particularly interested in options in the College, get active in the RFS. Attend your state chapter meetings. If not already established, see about developing a local RFS chapter. Other opportunities include attending the annual meeting, scholarships to RLI programs and its annual event, and volunteering for ACR committees and commissions. Most importantly, not only for those training for leadership, we all need to recognize that membership and volunteering in organized radiology are part of being a radiologist.
What about your work in the American College of Radiology Foundation (ACRF)?
The Foundation is the philanthropic organization within the ACR. The ACRF is everyone’s opportunity to “pay it forward” and make a difference in people’s lives through what we do. The Foundation is most widely known for focused fundraising efforts for ACRIN and RLI. We also maintain several categories of continual funding opportunities including: a general fund, the RLI, ACRIN, Neiman Molecular Imaging, International Outreach, and Emergency Relief. The Global Humanitarian Awards recognize incredible individuals and organization providing desperately needed medical care through imaging in third world areas. Two years ago, the Foundation supported radiology relief efforts in Nepal after the earthquake. We have had annual missions to Haiti to help build their medical imaging infrastructure. Last year, a radiology group donated $100,000 to the HPI recognizing the importance of their work. This year, they have renewed their pledge but made it matching funds challenging other groups and individuals to step forward. We have also begun to process bequeathments through estate giving opportunities.
These are just a few examples of how we can make our donations through the ACRF. I would urge everyone in radiology to consider donating to the Foundation as they prioritize their individual or group charitable contributions.