ACR 2018: A First-Time Attendee’s Perspective
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Radiologists from across the country gathered in Washington D.C., for the annual ACR meeting to discuss key health policy, economic, and legislative issues impacting the profession. As a first-time attendee, I was excited to discover the inner workings of the ACR, and gain a broader sense of the issues facing the field. I came with experience and passion concerning these issues, but left with a much deeper knowledge and appreciation of the challenges ahead.
The sessions were varied and engaging, running the gamut of topics such as health policy, finance, advocacy, interview skills, entrepreneurship, and speed mentoring. The speed mentoring session afforded me the opportunity to meet a variety of leaders in the field, who discussed a myriad of topics such as leadership development, contract negation, work-life balance, grant writing, and quality improvement measures. It was during one of these sessions that I had the privilege of meeting Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR, founding editor-in-chief of the JACR®. Unbeknownst to me, Hillman had served as a mentor to my program director, Reed Omary, MD, MS.
This is just one example of the incredible networking opportunities available at the ACR meeting, where chance coffee line banter often leads to introductions and subsequent opportunities. At any given event, you may be conversing with a medical student, a program director, a congressman, or even the president of the ACR. This type of networking highlights the open and inviting nature of the ACR. There is always an authentic sense that we are all on the same team, with the common goal of advancing the profession.
Throughout these networking interactions, I was fascinated with the diverse opportunities available within the field. There was Jose Morey, MD, associate chief health officer at IBM Watson, AI advisor for NASA, and chief of innovation at Hyperloop Global, who spoke about innovative ways a medical degree could be used outside of hospital-based medicine. Nicole Saphier, MD, a radiologist and national news media commenter, taught us how to influence the media to our advantage. Keith J. Dreyer, DO, PhD, FACR, chief science officer at the Data Science Institute™, presented an excellent talk on the future of radiology and AI. Dryer encouraged us to not view AI as the enemy, but instead as a new imaging modality that we must master in order to lead the national conversation on its design and implementation. The takeaway is that regardless of your particular passion, your radiology background can be leveraged to find success in these pursuits.
The week culminated with Hill Day, where the knowledge and skills gained throughout the week were put into action while meeting with our respective state legislators to advocate for important policy affecting the profession. I found this rewarding as it reinforced the importance of advocacy in preserving and advancing the field. Radiology has always been on the cutting-edge of change and innovation but this success cannot be maintained passively. We need strong passionate voices on Capitol Hill guiding healthcare policy, creative leaders at the forefront of AI, and driven leaders advocating for the value of radiology in payment reform.
Perhaps the ACR won’t solve all the world’s problems, but we certainly can improve those affecting our profession and our patients. I came away from the meeting invigorated and energized to continue my involvement with the organization, and I encourage anyone interested in organized medicine, economics, health policy, or networking, to become involved. Reach out to your local ACR chapter and find a way to start serving. Any added diversity of thought will ensure radiology continues to advance the future of medical care.
Casey Cable, MD, is an interventional radiologist resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.