Meet the ACR Leadership: William T. Herrington, MD, FACRGettyImages 610861498

This is an installment of a series titled “Meet the ACR Leadership.” Throughout the series, we interview the ACR Leadership to get insight into their background and involvement in the ACR. For this installment, we talk with William T. Herrington, MD, FACR.

 How did you get involved in the ACR and what has kept you interested enough to pursue a leadership role?

I did my residency training in the military in Bethesda, Maryland, with Steve Amis, who later became President of the ACR, as my chair. The ACR had offices located just down the street from the Naval Hospital. There were occasional talks given at the radiology department by ACR staff (Otha W. Linton and Thomas W. Greeson for example) and we were encouraged to attend DC Chapter meetings which were held at the Watergate hotel. After my residency, I returned to Athens, Georgia where I had a colleague involved with the Georgia Radiology Society. I became involved with By-Laws Committee and slowly became more and more involved rising to president of the Georgia Radiology Society. Serving as an ACR Councilor, I was approached by Alan H. Kaye, MD, MBA, about working on the Council Steering Committee (CSC). During my service on the CSC, I was encouraged to run for Vice Speaker by a few former Speakers and here I am. I would have never imagined this journey when it began.

What activities or roles is your position as Speaker of the Council responsible for undertaking?

As speaker of the Council I am chairperson of the Council Steering Committee (CSC), responsible for representing the ACR membership by helping to develop ACR policy as well as liaising with various chapters and societies. Many of my duties involve appointing members to multiple committees within ACR. The Speaker appoints some members of the CSC, which includes the elected representatives of the Resident Fellow Section and Young Physician Section, members of the Tellers, Reference, and Credentials Committees. The speaker also chairs the first teleconference of the Council Nominating Committee (CNC) to hear presentations of members seeking to become chair of the CNC. Additionally, the CSC is also responsible for the planning of the annual meeting governance pathway.

It seems like you have had an extensive career in computing dating back to the mid-1970s. How do you see the role of computer aided diagnosis progressing in the future?

People tend to think of computers in radiology only in a future sense of computer artificial intelligence but they already serve a major role in radiology through their ability to supplement workflow through things such as PACS, electronic health records, and the resources available on the internet. I think artificial intelligence is currently overhyped but it does have the potential for assisting the primary radiologist with items such as detection and measurement of pulmonary nodules. I am hopeful that computers can be utilized in the future to aid measuring lesions and generating growth curves in oncology for RECIST and other similar tedious tasks. To this point, computing has not fulfilled expectations in practice. It will be interesting to see the direction that computers lead radiology, considering CT scans in the 1980’s took 20-30 minutes to scan and reconstruct while now entire body scans can be performed in seconds. Computers have allowed more robust clinical history, previous reports, and lab results than paper records in the past. I think computers will continue to be a tool for radiologists rather than a replacement of radiologists. I think a computer as your radiologist is generations away.

I see that you were a surgical intern prior to performing your diagnostic radiology residency. How do you feel that this has helped you as a diagnostic radiologist as opposed to other forms of intern year such as a medicine preliminary year or a transitional year?

I have experience in surgical training as an intern as well as a year serving as a primary care physician (Battalion Surgeon) in the Marine Corps prior to the radiology residency. I feel that radiology has significantly replaced the physical examination, and any clinical experience, whether it be in surgery or medicine, allows the radiologist to empathize with both the patient and the physician. This clinical experience informs the radiologist in being a partner in the health care delivery rather than simply a report generator. In 1984, the American Association of Academic Chief Residents in Radiology administered a survey to determine if residents felt that a medicine or a surgery year was more helpful than straight radiology. Results showed that residents thought the type of intern year they did was best. I don’t think this has changed as many only know the circumstances of their own training and may not value the clinical years if they didn’t do any. It may be most helpful for programs to consider implementing a program which integrates the clinical year into the radiology residency like interventional radiology programs have done, rather than a dedicated year prior to residency.

Any advice for current residents as they begin to transition into private practice?

There are two things which graduates should be aware of as they enter private practice. First, there is not much sub-specialization in private practice on call and weekends. Work will push new graduates out of their comfort zone, particularly if they have had limited exposure in the last years and fellowship years to a limited scope of practice. Second, the private practice radiologist should understand that there is a requirement of being committed to building a practice which is not just reading studies. Commitment to the business aspect and scope of practice in addition to image interpretation is required. Many ACR programs focus on non-interpretive skill sets, such as medical quality assurance, by-laws of hospitals, and business of radiology, and negotiating skills, which puts the organization in a good position to help with these issues. Consider Radiology Leadership Institute® courses and read the articles in the JACR® on non-interpretive skills.

By Greg Wade, MD, radiology resident at Eastern Virginia Medical School

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