A Sense of Belonging

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Our ability to bring about change is, in large part, based on the common foundation we share as radiologists.

I would like to use this March column to set the record straight on a few things: it’s St. Paddy’s (not Patty’s) Day, we don’t eat corned beef and cabbage in Ireland to celebrate, and until recently we spent the day attending church and the public houses closed early. Green beer? Absolutely not! Although I am a little curmudgeonly on the execution of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, I am inspired to see my Irish heritage celebrated so enthusiastically and by so many people. By some counts, the Irish diaspora numbers 80 million — not a bad statistic for a country with a resident population of less than 5 million.
 
The fact that “everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s Day” had me thinking about the definition of belonging. As many of us become increasingly subspecialized, how do we retain our sense of a strong radiology diaspora and keep our definition of belonging to the imaging community as inclusive as possible? I believe that if we do not maintain and strengthen our commitment to what we have in common as radiologists, we will lose some of the unique value we deliver to our patients as imaging experts.
 
Don’t get me wrong — I love being part of the breast imaging community and sharing our passion for our work as breast imagers. I see the same collaboration at organizations like the American Society of Neuroradiology and the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine and at our ACR meetings. I will be attending the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) meeting this month and am looking forward to tapping into the energy that the SIR community brings to the clinical practice of IR. The IR community has certainly been a vanguard for our Imaging 3.0® efforts.1
 
English Prime Minister Theresa M. May controversially said, “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.”2 In the context of our radiology community, one might transpose that to imply that in today’s healthcare system the general radiologist is less important. Yet today’s graduating residents still spend a significant percentage of their time (29 to 46 percent, depending on their area of subspecialty training) practicing outside of their fellowship training focus.3 Importantly,
access to imaging services in rural areas often depends on this community. Even for those of us who practice in an academic environment, our ability to guide our referring physician colleagues and patients to the appropriate examination depends on our unique general knowledge of the entire imaging armamentarium.
 
The ACR Commission on General, Small, Emergency and/or Rural Practice is focused on supporting these members of our community and is ably led by Robert S. Pyatt, MD, FACR, who practices general radiology in rural Pennsylvania. Working with colleagues such as Eric B. Friedberg, MD, FACR, and Catherine J. Everett, MD, MBA, FACR, the commission is focusing on issues around workforce supply and well-being, as well as creating affinity groups for our members in the VA, military, and critical access hospitals. Especially where resources are limited, our obligation as radiologists to act as responsible stewards is enhanced by our expertise in triaging patients to the most effective imaging modality.
 
To Prime Minister May, I would say that it is indeed possible to belong to more than one community. And to our radiology diaspora, I would say that whatever our practice type and training, we share a common purpose: to serve patients and society by empowering members to advance the practice, science, and professions of radiological care.
 
The power of our advocacy efforts is, in large part, based on our speaking with a unified voice for the benefit of our patients. As we think about how to engage as many radiologists as possible in advocacy efforts to amplify that voice, let us enjoy connecting with and learning from those who share our particular practice challenges or interests — but let us never lose sight of the common foundation we share as radiologists.
ENDNOTES
1. Charalel RA, McGinty G, Brant-Zawadzki M, et al. Interventional
radiology delivers high-value health care and is an Imaging 3.0 vanguard.
J Am Coll Radiol. 2015;12(5):501–506. Available at bit.ly/IR_Value.
2. May T. Theresa May’s conference speech in full. The Telegraph. October 5,
2016. Available at bit.ly/Theresa_MaySpeech. Accessed Jan. 5, 2019.
3. Bluth EI, Bansal S, Bender CE. The 2017 ACR Commission on Human
Resources Workforce Survey. J Am Coll Radiol. 2017;14(12):1613–1619.
Available at bit.ly/2017_ACRHRSurvey.

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