Human Touch

The ACR Commission on Human Resources helps radiologists work appropriately in the medical community.human touch

The ACR Commission on Human Resources focuses its attention on both the interface between radiologists and allied health professionals and human resources issues that affect radiologists.

For instance, it has been working with the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) to help establish a category for physical extenders in radiology, known as radiologists assistants (RAs). Twenty-eight states now formally recognize the RA in statute or regulation. The ACR is working with the ASRT and ARRT in backing federal legislation that would recognize and reimburse radiologists for the services performed by the RAs they employ. Although this legislation is unlikely to pass by the end of 2012, we hope it will be passed in 2013.

The commission has worked diligently to develop and establish an annual workforce survey. The results of this inaugural survey were presented at the AMCLC in April 2012 and were published in the September JACR®.1 Identified using the Practice of Radiology Environment Database® (PRED®), more than 500 practice leaders responded, which represents approximately 31 percent of the total number of practicing radiologists and radiation oncologists in the United States. With this high response rate, the survey was statistically valid. The survey identified the makeup by subspecialty of radiologists who are presently employed or supervised, the number who were hired in 2011, the number whom practice leaders plan to hire in 2012, and the number they anticipate hiring in 2014. We collected information on the structural characteristics of the practices that responded as well as their geographic locations. Also, the commission will be sending information to each ACR state chapter president regarding the workforce and job availability for that particular state. We hope that even more practice leaders participate in the next annual survey.

The commission is also evaluating and assessing human resource issues affecting the practice of radiology. To guide this endeavor, we will be developing analytic papers on issues that affect our membership. Topics to be studied in 2012-2013 include retirement, health issues, practice environment, and maximizing the value of a radiology practice. Our plan is to develop and publish these analytic papers with recommendations regarding best practices for radiologists and their practices.

In addition, the commission nominates diagnostic radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians, interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, and medical physicists to serve on various allied health organization committees and boards. Presently, the ACR has approximately 27 member representatives working with allied health organizations such as the ARRT, joint review committees, and educational programs in ultrasound, nuclear medicine, cardiovascular technology, and radiologic technology.

The commission and the College also continue to support the Federal Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility, and Excellence (CARE) legislation. Also, H.R. 2014 would set certification and state licensure standards for technical personnel in all medical imaging disciplines, including radiation therapy. Lastly, the commission composed a reply to the International Atomic Energy Commission's draft paper "Staffing Models in Medical Imaging." The paper was adopted as the official response by the International Society of Radiology as well as the ACR.

In summary, the Commission on Human Resources is actively working to represent the interests of the ACR membership. We represent the College in its relationships with allied health professionals and are now actively working to provide useful information, recommendations, and models for practices to consider as they handle the fluctuating changes in the field of radiology. The commission will now conduct the next annual workforce survey, which it hopes will be useful to the membership in planning and understanding the future workforce environment. Similar to other ACR commissions, we are always happy to hear from volunteers who are willing to help with our activities.

1. Bluth EI, Short BW, Willis-Walton S. “2012 American College of Radiology Commission on Human Resources Workforce Survey.” JACR, in press.

edward bluthBy Edward I. Bluth, MD, FACR
Chair, ACR Commission on Human Resources

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