The Future is Now
Serving as the first elected YPS member of the ACR BOC is undoubtedly a privilege. More importantly, creation of this position clearly demonstrates the College’s commitment to its youngest members. The first few months in this position have granted greater insight into the inner workings of the College, while also providing a platform for open discussion with College leadership about matters that are most pertinent for the youngest generation of practicing radiologists.
This platform is particularly salient, as the issues we currently face as young physicians — in light of the healthcare milieu in which we practice — may be difficult for more experienced radiologists to detect. Beyond detection, empathizing with younger professionals’ concerns may be even more challenging. That is why during this time that I serve on the BOC, I am committed to ensuring that our leadership remains future-focused and thoughtful about the challenges faced by those that will someday follow in their footsteps. Fortunately, we are blessed with remarkably collaborative and inclusive leaders at the College.
There are many overtly obvious changes globally effecting radiology, such as AI, increasing corporatization, and a rapidly changing (and often unpredictable) reimbursement system. However, a few issues seem more critical to members of the YPS.
- There is increasing curiosity about the impact the new IR/DR residency will have on the future. As with most new programs, the outcomes seem obvious — until the program is implemented and offers little else but questions. Could this residency lead to a dissenting faction of the membership? Will the existing job market meet the expectations of graduating IR/DR residents? Will this impact the ability of practice leaders to hire IRs? How will our organization meet the challenge of serving these members? How will we replenish the increasingly sparse supply of general radiologists serving much of rural America? The answers are not necessarily obvious at this point. However, it does seem abundantly clear that this will be an issue faced by our generation for the foreseeable future.
- Despite mammoth advances over the past few years, a sentiment persists in which younger radiologists perceive a retaliatory culture in many practices. Thus, those that engage with organized radiology and other non-profitable activities, often fear senior leaders or fear that they are viewed poorly. While we hope that this is an issue that continues to improve over time, it remains important to mention to sustain slow and steady amelioration.
- From a membership engagement standpoint, our generation’s willingness and ability to relocate more frequently seems to impact those trying to ascend through the College’s existing state chapter structure. Not to suggest that a complete overhaul of the chapter structure is warranted — however the issue does bring to light a contemporary limitation in the era of increasing corporatization and mobility. Furthermore, this structure may also hinder those in academics seeking state chapter leadership positions, as those that move between academic practices often cross state borders, potentially necessitating a move to the bottom of their new state chapter’s leadership ascension plan.
- Last and certainly not least importantly — the growing student debt burden that current trainees incur cannot be understated. Not only are the absolute dollar amounts skyrocketing — but the interest rates are also higher than they have been for quite some time. Financial debt unarguably leads to risk-aversive behavior and affects career choices made by graduating trainees. Current leaders must continue to understand how this impacts the needs and wants of new hires and how it may impact the ability to recruit the best and brightest to radiology.
These are just some of the issues facing our generation of radiologists. Fortunately, our profession is guided by insightful, forward-thinking, and inclusive leaders, as demonstrated by the creation of this position on the Board. As long as we maintain a steadfast commitment to our profession, our generation’s enthusiasm and community-driven volunteerism will contribute to a prosperous future for radiology.
- Matthew Hawkins, MD, is director of pediatric IR at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. He is also the first elected YPS member to the ACR BOC.