The ACR – It’s More Than You Know
When they think about it at all, many radiologists see the ACR as an amorphous something far away and with only a tangential relation to their daily lives. Others know it as an accrediting body, a standards organization, or simply as a lobbying group for the profession.
Only when radiologists become involved in College activities do they begin to see how much the ACR really does.
In our time at the ACR, we have worked with numerous BOC chairs. These were members who had been involved with the College for many years and in a number of capacities before becoming board members. After six months, and without exception, all of these chairs admitted that, upon taking office, they did not fully realize just how broad and encompassing the ACR’s activities really are.
So let us take this opportunity to lay out the structure of the College and its affiliates and the functions of each segment. Your “organization” is really five separate corporations and a political action committee located in three states and the District of Columbia. The American College of Radiology is a nonprofit corporation incorporated in California in 1924. The American College of Radiology Foundation (ACRF) is a nonprofit corporation incorporated in Illinois in 1958. The American College of Radiology Association (ACRA) is a nonprofit corporation incorporated in Illinois in 1997. ACR Image Metrix™ is a for-profit limited liability corporation incorporated in Pennsylvania in 2006. The American Institute for Radiologic Pathology (AIRP™) is a nonprofit corporation incorporated in Maryland in 2010.
Each of these entities is separately incorporated in order to minimize financial risk and protect the members’ assets. The ACR, ACRF, and AIRP are 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, which provide a number of tax advantages. The ACRA is a 501(c)(6) business league organization that was formed in order to sponsor the profession’s political action committee, RADPAC, which ACR is not permitted to do because of federal tax law restrictions. ACR Image Metrix is separately incorporated in order to protect the ACR’s nonprofit status.
The ACR has its headquarters building in Reston, Va., and the Clinical Research Center in Philadelphia. ACR Image Metrix is also located in Philadelphia. The AIRP is located in Silver Spring, Md. The ACRA is located in both Reston, which houses the Economics & Health Policy Department, and the District of Columbia, which houses the Government Relations Department and RADPAC.
Why do we have five corporations spread all over the mid-Atlantic region? Well, radiologists initially established the ACR as an honorary society with a very limited membership. As time went on, the profession recognized the need for one organization to act as an advocate for radiology both within organized medicine and with federal and state legislators and regulators. As the concept of Medicare began to move forward, College leadership recognized the need to have a visible presence in the Washington, D.C. area. ACR completed and occupied the Reston headquarters building in 1984. The headquarters complex contains several departments:
Quality and Safety. The Quality and Safety Department comprises accreditation, standards and guidelines, registries and lexicons, ACR Appropriateness Criteria®, performance measure development, as well as radiation safety initiatives.
Education. The Education Department, including the ACR Education Center (which is widely recognized as the premier interactive training facility in radiology) and the Radiology Leadership Institute®.
ACR Press. ACR Press oversees production of the JACR®, the ACR Bulletin, and other print and multimedia publications.
Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations. The ACR Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations Department is responsible for communications with members, prospective members, the media, legislators and regulators, as well as customers of ACR products and services.
Governance and Membership Services. This department supports the ACR leadership, including the Board of Chancellors, Council Steering Committee, and ACR Executive Committee; coordinates member benefits (such as the ACR Career Center and chapter and volunteer services); organizes AMCLC; and arranges international outreach.
Association and Meetings Services. This department manages seven subspecialty societies and coordinates College meetings.
Our headquarters also provide support services that include executive, accounting, IT, legal, and administration.
The Philadelphia Clinical Research Office actually predates the Reston facility. ACR established it in order to coordinate federally funded cancer research via the Patterns of Care Study and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group. Later, ACR established the American College of Radiology Imaging Network to focus more on diagnostic imaging research. Finally, ACR established and incorporated ACR Image Metrix as a contract research organization in order to test the waters of non-government-funded contract research. ACRA opened the D.C. office to allow more daily face-time with federal decision-makers.
Finally, the AIRP is the former Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), which was a Department of Defense training activity located at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. When Congress decided to close Walter Reed, the AFIP was also scheduled to close. Amid outcry from radiology residency program directors, 90 percent of whom sent their radiology residents to AFIP for training during their residency, the ACR stepped in and took over the training function on short notice and established new facilities in Silver Spring.
These ACR locations facilitate participation by nearly 2,000 members in courses, meetings, publications, registries, and over 150 commissions, committees, and task forces. ACR’s corporate insurance covers those individuals regarding their participation in these activities.
We could continue with a much more extensive list of activities, but as you can see, the College and its affiliates don’t just provide a quick CV item or an additional credential for members’ practices. Staff and members work every day to improve patient care, represent radiology to state and national decision-makers, and ensure the future viability of the profession.
By Bill Shields, JD, LLM, CAE, and Tom Hoffman, JD, CAE