This year let's set some goals that will benefit our patients, our practices, and our specialty.
If, like me, you make (and break) the same old New Year's resolutions every year, maybe it's time to think differently for 2013.
As much as I'd like to think that I'll go to the gym every day and finally deal with my addiction to shoes, in the words of Oscar Wilde, "I can resist everything but temptation." So how about some resolutions that are not only easy but also essential to our future as radiologists?
Resolution #1: I will talk to a referring clinician at least once a day.
When you see a question on a medical student chat forum inquiring as to whether radiologists are "real doctors," you know we can do a better job of communicating with our colleagues. Remote reading and the availability of images to clinicians via the web have reduced the opportunities for us to connect with other physicians. Communal lunches in the doctors' dining room are a thing of the past. If we are to convince our physician colleagues as well as policy-makers of the value of what we do as radiologists, we need to be more visible.
Resolution #2: I will talk to a patient at least once a day.
Whether it is to clarify history, to give results, or just to introduce yourself as the doctor who will be interpreting their scan, talking to patients is a vital part of the rebranding of radiologists. And it is crucial to our continued survival. Patients often think that the technologists or the surgeon reads the images. Unless they meet us and understand what we do, they are unlikely to value us as an essential part of the care-delivery process.
Resolution #3: I will volunteer for a committee at my hospital or in my state medical society.
“When you see a question on a medical student chat forum inquiring as to whether radiologists are ‘real doctors,’ you know we can do a better job of communicating with our colleagues.”
Working collaboratively with other physicians or the administrative leadership of your hospital not only gives you a chance to represent the issues of radiologists but also strengthens radiologists' position within the delivery system. Whether we got behind a local issue, such as support with turf disputes, or a national one, like building a coalition within the AMA to oppose the multiple procedure payment reduction rule, we have to be involved to have a voice.
Resolution #4: I will respond to the ACR's calls to action.
The ACR's Radiology Advocacy Network, under the leadership of Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, aims to mobilize the ACR's membership quickly and effectively when comments to policy-makers and lawmakers are needed. As we've seen time and again, advocacy works, and policy-makers are influenced by the volume of calls and letters they receive. This is an important way for us as individual radiologists to make a difference. Even though the Radiology Advocacy Network makes it incredibly easy to submit a response, our responses could be much more numerous. So next time you think one letter doesn't matter and you are too busy to respond to a call to action, please think again.
Resolution #5: I will remember why I love my job.
It has been a rough road for us radiologists, with cascading reimbursement cuts and the feeling that we are in the crosshairs of policymakers looking to ratchet our income down even further. It can be tempting to rail about the good old days and maintain a very negative outlook for the future. Rest assured that your economics advocacy team at the ACR is made up of dedicated volunteers and superb staff who will continue to fight tooth and nail to prevent further cuts and to ensure that they value of what we do is recognized. That said, the thrill of contributing to a patient's care, and of so often being the person in the care process who unlocks the diagnosis, is priceless.
By Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, Chair