Change Agents

The Radiology Leadership Institute® is empowering radiologists who are ready to shape the future of radiology.


The only thing that is constant is change.” So said ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, and what was true in c. 500 BC still resonates today.

In the face of an increasingly dynamic health care environment, it is critical for radiologists to obtain the leadership skills that will enable them to continue to demonstrate the value of radiology in the health care delivery system. That’s where the Radiology Leadership Institute (RLI) comes in.

“Leadership education for radiologists is extremely important due to the rapid and tumultuous changes in health care,” says Cynthia S. Sherry, MD, MMM, FACR, former RLI Chief Medical Officer. “In order for our specialty to have an impact on the direction of change, it is vital for radiologists to understand the business side of medicine and what it takes to be effective as a leader.”

The ACR built the RLI from the ground up to prepare radiology leaders to compete in an ever-shifting landscape. One of those leaders is Sabiha Raoof, MD, chair of the radiology department at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens, N.Y. “I’ve been a chief for 17 years,” she says, “and the speed of change, especially in the last few years, has been staggering. Now, 24 hours a day is not enough to keep pace with the evolving health care field. The RLI is a critical way to help me stay one step ahead of the game.”

Leadership for All

Ronald E. Freedman, MBA, is an executive vice president of the ACR and was instrumental in the foundation of the RLI. He points out that, “Although not every radiologist will be the chair of the department or president of the practice, they all need to have some degree of leadership skills — whether it’s leading a team, leading a project, or simply personal leadership. Radiologists now understand that clinical education alone is not enough.”

The RLI curriculum may be the first time that many radiologists are exposed to concepts such as value-based programs, strategic planning, managing teams, and basic finance. According to Anne Marie Pascoe, director of the RLI, “The world is changing, and every radiologist needs to develop a new set of tools. The RLI is not just for people who have a leadership title. It’s for everyone, because everyone can be a change agent.”

Sherry agrees, “When you become a doctor, you automatically become a leader. The RLI recognizes different levels of leadership and offers courses that match the point where a radiologist is on the leadership curve.”

Out of the Comfort Zone

Learning how to facilitate change is what Raoof enjoys most about the RLI. She particularly appreciates the opportunity that the RLI Accelerator Series provides to interact directly with other leaders in the field. “When you hear how innovators approach the same problems you are facing, it opens up new ideas for you to explore. Getting out of your comfort zone is particularly important for radiologists, because the health care industry is pushing us all to reinvent our processes and forge new best practices. The RLI has been a catalyst for me to identify where I can make improvements within my department and to try new ideas.”

One such idea for Raoof was a performance indicator dashboard: “During a presentation in the Accelerator Series, the chief of radiology at Harvard showed us the institution’s dashboard. The next day I told my hospital administrator, ‘I need to have that dashboard!’ We built one for radiology, and I showed it to the hospital performance indicator committee. The CEO loved it so much, he asked every department to come up with their own dashboard.”
Says Raoof, “With the dashboard, all of our performance indicators are in one place. Quarter-by-quarter, I know exactly how we’re doing and can communicate that to the rest of the hospital. Not only has it helped me run my department and demonstrate leadership, but this new way of thinking has penetrated into our core systems and is helping to make a difference throughout the hospital.”

Where Business Meets Radiology

Beyond its robust curriculum, what sets the RLI apart from other leadership programs is its team approach to teaching. In many courses, a business school professor collaborates with a radiologist leader to present critical business and management principles and make them relevant to the radiology profession.
Says Pascoe, “Not only do you learn from leading business thinkers about managing change or decision-making or negotiation, but we pair you with radiology experts who can help you figure out how to apply what you’re learning to your day-to-day radiology practice. We’ve focused on making theoretical business and leadership lessons actionable, so our participants walk away with practical steps they can take the very next day to make an impact.”

After more than a year of participating in the RLI, Raoof believes she has learned necessary skills to make a difference at Jamaica Hospital. “I have been motivated, inspired, and energized to do more in my department, to become a better communicator and a better leader,” she emphasizes. “Thanks to the RLI, I am now a driver of change — not only for the radiology department, but for the entire organization.”

By Linda Sowers, freelance writer for ACR Press

Share this content

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn