A Resident’s View — AMA 2016

Attending the AMA meeting can have an impact on your career.

purakal ama rfs voices

Recently, I had the honor of being invited by Arl Van Moore, Jr., MD, FACR, to serve as an alternate delegate representing the American College of Radiology to the American Medical Association annual meeting.

 Although working as a radiologist in the hospital can often feel like the different subspecialties are quite siloed, many issues are germane to medicine as a whole. Participating in the AMA can remind you that we are all in this together and can strengthen medicine’s voice to the public.

You may have heard the aphorism, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” As much as it is understood that more physicians need to be involved in congress and other governing agencies, radiologists don’t always realize it is equally imperative for radiology to be active participants in the sphere of organized medicine. There are many issues that are voted on at each meeting that directly affect the future of radiology, and thus, it is imperative for radiology to have a strong and unified stance on the issues that matter most to our field.

As a first time attendee, I tried to soak up as much of the experience as possible. It was interesting to not only be a part of the ACR delegation, and be mentored by radiologists who have made a strong voice for radiology in the national sphere of organized medicine, but also to learn about and voice concerns on issues that affect many physicians, regardless of specialty. This year there were many important topics on the docket, many pertaining to young physicians and those in training, including changes to Step 2 CS (including the possibility of holding the exam at individual medical schools or findings other alternatives to a standardized clinical skills exam), unifying the NRMP match, research and funding for Zika virus, appropriate staffing for the VA hospitals, as well as lifting the research ban on the public health effects of gun violence.

As a future breast imager, I have a stake in the outcomes of many of the resolutions that were voted on in the House of Delegates, especially those that relate to preventative tests. At this meeting, there were potential resolutions regarding the USPSTF screening guidelines, and rightly so, the radiology delegation played an active role in shaping that discussion.

Improving diversity within the field of radiology has been a goal of our profession for a number of years. I intend to devote a great deal of time in my career to promote diversity within the field of radiology, and in particular, to strengthen the position of women within academic medicine as a whole. I welcomed the opportunity to attend the Council on Long Range Planning and Development panel on the topic. It was enlightening to see how other specialties and programs are facing these tough issues and what strategies they are using to assess areas of need and improve diversity in medicine. I plan to take many of these lessons and apply them in my career to encourage the recruitment and retention of women in radiology.

It was so moving to sit in the House of Delegates and hear physicians stand up for issues they are passionate about, even if they are controversial. I was honored to have the opportunity to be a part of such a memorable and monumental AMA annual meeting. I encourage any interested physicians, but especially those still in training, to get involved with the ACR and the AMA on a local or national level. This is especially important to do while you are still in training when it is easier to participate and get dedicated time to travel and attend meetings. It is an invaluable experience, and you actually can make a positive impact on the future of medicine.

I would like to give a special thank you to Dr. Van Moore for the invitation, as well as Dr. David Paushter and Dr. Richard Baron from the University of Chicago, for the opportunity to attend.

By Alixandra Purakal, rising PGY-4 resident from University of Chicago Medical Center

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