Alex Podlaski, MD, almost did not become a radiologist. His love of golf course architecture almost led him into a career designing courses and advocating on behalf of that industry. Fortunately for the American College of Radiology® (ACR®), his passion for healthcare and economics led him into the field of radiology, and just four years after being introduced to ACR’s advocacy efforts at ACR 2019, Dr. Podlaski was honored with the 2023 Howard Fleishon MD, MMM, FACR, Radiology Advocacy Network (RAN) Advocate of the Year award.
At ACR 2019, Dr. Podlaski met Natasha Monga, MD, and their conversations led him to want to become more involved in advocacy efforts on behalf of radiology. He attended his first Capitol Hill Day as part of the meeting and was hooked. “We got to meet a bunch of senators and other members of Congress and talk about issues that were important to us, and I knew from then I wanted to be involved in RAN and RADPAC®,” Dr. Podlaski said.
Dr. Podlaski has held leadership roles with the ACR Resident and Fellow Section (RFS) — serving 2020–2021 as the Chair of the RFS Government Relations and Advocacy Subcommittee and Advocacy Liaison of the RFS National Executive Committee. He became a member of the board of RADPAC — the American College of Radiology Association® political action committee — in 2021 and has served on the RAN Board since 2022 as Communications Officer. Dr. Podlaski is quick to sing the praises of the work RAN and RADPAC do to help ACR members become involved in advocacy.
“RAN makes it so easy with packaged calls to action that have all the information ready for you to send. If you are planning to meet with your lawmakers, they have talking points that help guide your conversations.”
“So much of what legislators vote on or choose to do is guided by the influence the constituents have, so the more people that are vocal on an issue can make a huge difference,” he adds.
Dr. Podlaski focuses a lot of his time teaching trainees about advocacy and letting them know that, while it doesn’t seem like they can make a big difference, they can, and right now is the best time to get involved. That’s why, he explains, initiatives like the pre-radiology RAN and RFS are important to him.
“We are going to be the next generation that go and lead these organizations, we are the ones that will be practicing for the next 20 to 30 years, and all these decisions being made now will affect us for the next 30 years. It is never too early to get involved.” He also notes that earlier involvement helps ease anxieties and gets people more comfortable with communicating these issues to legislators.
For those who have been in the radiology field for longer, but have been reluctant to become involved in advocacy, Dr. Podlaski asks them about their practice and what is important to them, and everybody usually has something that they’ve been affected by that has a legislative angle — like the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. “Finding commonality is key as is showing them all the things that ACR’s advocacy efforts have done that have helped their practices,” Dr. Podlaski notes.
Dr. Podlaski’s efforts have earned high praise from many ACR members. “Alex exemplifies the true definition of a tireless radvocate. He has been indispensable to the RAN, and I am so appreciative of the hard work he has dedicated to ensure the future success of our profession,” Amy Patel, MD, Chair of the RAN and RADPAC said.
When Dr. Podlaski is not focused on advocacy, he likes to get outdoors, and he also enjoys playing instruments like the drums. He completed his fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and will move to New York City later this summer.
For more information on how to get involved in RAN, contact Melody Ballesteros, Assistant Director of Government Relations. For information on how to get involved in RADPAC, contact Ted Burnes, Senior Director of Political Affairs.