Radiologists: The time for professional organization involvement is now

In an interview published in today's issue of FierceMedicalImaging, Albert Blumberg, the new president of the American College of Radiology, talks about the benefits of radiologists being active in professional organizations, particularly with the challenges the professionan faces in today's healthcare environment. And while you would be hard pressed to find a radiologist who would disagree that the specialty has been the target of a number of threats to its wellbeing--particularly with regard to cost cutting--the general consensus appears to be that most radiologists are content to sit on the sidelines and let the chips fall as they may.

In an article published in April in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, Chistoph Lee, M.D., of the University of Washington, and his colleagues, wrote that despite the fact that radiologists enjoy high-paying positions and play highly-respected, central roles when it comes to patient care, many aren't doing their bit to support the profession. For example, according to Lee, despite the fact that 68 percent of U.S. radiologists are members of the ACR, a recent campaign soliciting contributions for the American College of Radiology Imaging Network research only garnered support from about 100 individual members. 

What's more, Lee and his colleagues pointed out, in 2012, only about 9 percent of ACR members contributed to the Radiology Advocacy Alliance Political Action Committee.

"Merely hoping that individual radiologists will answer a call to bolster and secure the future of their own profession is not working," they wrote. Consequently, the ACR has established a Commission on Human Resources, which has developed a definition of citizenship in the specialty and a way to measure and value citizenship activities. The group has identified a number of activities that radiologists should perform to enhance radiology citizenship, including participating in radiology and general medical organizations and societies.

The future of the specialty remains uncertain. If individual radiologists aren't going to step up, get active and work to secure the future of the profession, how can they expect others to do so?

"I'm a big proponent that people need to be involved to be part of any solution and not just sit there and gripe about a problem," Blumberg said. "I think it's important for every member to have some stake in in an organization. Medicine is not a 9 to 5 job--it's something that's a 24-hour-a-day commitment in terms of your thought processes and your responsibilities to your patients."

Radiologists should take that advice to heart, and be prepared to get more involved in professional organizations. After all, their jobs may depend on it. - Mike  @FierceHealthIT

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