Our Place in the House of Medicine

A recent win for patient care demonstrates the value of banding together with our physician colleagues.house of medicine

In June, I had the pleasure of attending the AMA annual meeting as a representative of the ACR. Arl Van Moore Jr., MD, FACR, former BOC chair and ACR president, leads the ACR delegation and runs a ship as tight as the submarine on which he served many years ago. Serving under Dr. Moore’s leadership at the AMA for these past two years, I have been struck by the importance of forging partnerships with other specialties and state medical societies regarding matters of mutual concern.

Dr. Moore is a master of these activities, often scheduling his time from early morning to late at night, seeking just one more society president or delegation representative to speak about matters of most concern to our profession. Time and time again, this approach has paid dividends, and I am very grateful for Dr. Moore’s thoughtful and coordinated approach to positioning radiology within the house of medicine.

This year, one proposed resolution captured the attention of the entire AMA House of Delegates. Prior to the AMA meeting, the Veterans Administration proposed to allow advanced practice nurses to practice independently of a physician’s clinical oversight, regardless of individual state law. The proposed rule would enable advanced practice nurses to perform, supervise, and interpret imaging examinations, among many other activities that typically fall under the purview of physicians.

Just prior to the AMA meeting, the ACR issued a strong statement on the proposed rule (read more at bit.ly/ACR-VA). The statement highlighted the many years of comprehensive training necessary to accurately interpret high-tech imaging examinations and safely account for radiation dose. While advanced practice nurses play a key role in patient care, this training and experience is largely nonexistent among non-physician professionals. Removing patient access to radiologists can pose immediate danger for patients at the point of care and increase the possibility of misdiagnosis. These impacts may have lifelong consequences.

I was heartened to witness the unity demonstrated by the house of medicine as we rallied to protect quality health care for our nation’s veterans.

While the ACR supports the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to address access challenges within the system, veterans deserve access to the same level of expertise as the general population. As we advocate for our patients’ care, the ACR cannot support compromises on quality.

At the AMA meeting, it became apparent that our voice was not alone. Virtually every other medical specialty voiced similar concerns and endorsed a late resolution to oppose the Department of Veterans Affairs’ proposed rule. The House of Delegates adopted this late resolution, which resolved to “call upon Congress and the administration to disapprove or otherwise overturn rules and regulations at the federal level that would inappropriately expand the scope of practice of medical professionals, and to collaborate with other medical professional organizations to vigorously oppose the final adoption of the VA’s proposed rulemaking, expanding the role of APRNs [advanced practice nurses] within the VA.”

The diverse members of the House of Delegates achieved consensus relatively quickly for this particular resolution. I was heartened to witness the unity demonstrated by the house of medicine as we rallied to protect quality health care for our nation’s veterans. These favorable results once again demonstrate the importance of our AMA involvement and the necessity of seeking allies among other medical specialties and state societies. Dr. Moore has done just that for many years, quietly working behind the scenes at the AMA meeting to establish relationships and find common ground among our physician colleagues. I am proud to be a part of the physician community, working with colleagues from across the spectrum of specialties to advocate for quality care for our patients.

house of medicine headshotBy James A. Brink, MD, FACR, Chair

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