Radiation Oncology Corner
Getting to Know Candice A. Johnstone, MD
Q. How did you pursue radiation oncology as a career?
A. I attended Harvard University, followed by New York University for medical school and then back to the Joint Center for Radiation Therapy for residency in radiation oncology. My first faculty position was at the Geisel School of Medicine and for the past seven years, I’ve been serving as associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. For five years, I served as the medical director for the Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Network, and currently serve as the medical director for the Kraemer Cancer Center. My focus is on breast, thoracic, and palliative radiation oncology.
Q. What are some of your professional leadership activities?
A. I have been active in several national medical organizations and have served on committees for the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), RSNA, American Society of Clinical Oncology, ACR, and the American Association for Women Radiologists (AAWR).
Q. Why do you think this type of service and involvement is important?
A. There is a lot of change happening in our field and in medicine in general, and this change will occur whether you are involved or not. There’s the saying, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” It is important to advocate for issues that face your field. Professional societies provide opportunities for networking, mentorship, education and advocacy.
Q. Can you give us more insight into the AAWR?
A. Maria Kelly, MD, the current president, is really doing a great job of trying to encourage more participation from radiation oncologists. Many radiation oncologists do not realize that they add value to the radiology professional societies that represent us, such as the ACR, AAWR, and RSNA. We are becoming increasingly aware of gender issues in medicine, and the AAWR is an important group for both professional women and men to get a better understanding of these issues so that they can be addressed. The AAWR sponsors mentoring and networking events at the annual meeting of ASTRO, ACR, and RSNA. They recently sponsored a virtual book club exploring women in leadership roles and how to be a successful female leader.
Q. Why should radiation oncologists get involved in the ACR?
A. Many radiation oncologists don’t recognize the value of the traditional radiological societies that include us. There are many more practicing radiologists than radiation oncologists, and by banding together we can achieve more in terms of advocacy than either of our fields could alone. Membership in these organizations offers more opportunities for service and leadership.
These societies are eager to have radiation oncologists participate in their committees so they can better reach those constituents. The ACR has a significant national economic focus. It is really important that we understand the economic issues facing our field and medicine in general. Through the ACR, I have learned a great deal about the economics of healthcare.
I encourage others to get involved in organized medicine, but especially in the ACR, AAWR, and RSNA (radiation oncologists often already participate in ASTRO). RSNA has a lot of resources at their annual meeting geared towards fostering important professional development skills like public speaking, searching PubMed, and using social media. RSNA and ACR offer free SA-CME to their members. They also offer in-person and online courses in grant writing, leadership, and enhancement of teaching skills.
Q. What steps should residents and early career professionals take to get involved?
A. Here are some suggestions:
• Be sure to take advantage of free membership while in training! Make sure your memberships don’t become inactive once you graduate. Many groups will offer discounted rates for early career members, and many practices, especially those in academics, will cover membership costs. Memberships are how these groups fund activities on our behalf, including the annual meetings and advocacy events.
• Show up to the meetings! This is a great chance to network, meet other physicians, and get involved.
• Take advantage of volunteer activities to rise in the ranks. Many residents don’t realize that they will need this type of national recognition in order to be promoted in an academic career. Organized medicine can be a path to career success, even in a private practice. For example, William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR, is now CEO of the ACR.
By Meghan Macomber MD, ACR-RFS radiation oncology representative