January 14, 2020

Leadership Matters

Ian A. Weissman, DO, FACR, is chair of the ACR Patient and Family-Centered Care Outreach Committee, and chair of the GSER Network Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

September 6–8, 2019, marked another successful collaboration between the ACR’s Radiology Leadership Institute (RLI) and one of the nation's top entrepreneurial business schools, Babson College.

This eighth annual RLI Summit brought together attendees with thought leaders in the private, government, and academic sectors for three days of collaborative discussions.
Topics ranged from “building resilience” and “personal branding” to “team decision-making” and financial discussions on “allocating bundled payments”.

This year a special leadership program was developed to focus on resident/young physicians and included topics such as “starting your career right,” and planting the seed for success”, as well as timely discussions on “population health, AI, and enhancing quality, safety, and patient-centered care.”

As in previous years, some of the most thought-provoking discussions occurred outside the classroom setting in informal breakout sessions where topics were discussed and strategies considered.

In the “building resilience” session, Scott N. Taylor, PhD, emphasized several key points. He stressed the importance of focusing on one’s strengths rather than one’s weaknesses. When unexpected situations arise, one should strive to focus on the good rather than the bad, since a negative focus can exasperate feelings such as burnout. This session tied in nicely with the new well-being program that has been developed by the ACR to combat burnout. Dr. Taylor noted that resilience builds up over time in individuals (as well as organizations), so it is worth developing a “reservoir of resistance.” In helping one’s colleagues to achieve resilience, Taylor emphasized several important points. First, remember to praise effort, not just success (always point out the small victories). Also, level praise four times more often than correction.

A new session this year focused on working through a complex case study encountered in daily practice since focusing on real-life situations is one of the most effective ways to study strategy. This session addressed what is happening in today’s evolving job market with independent practices increasingly selling to private equity firms. A new white paper on corporatization in radiology in the October 2019 issue of JACR® further explores this important issue, as does a recent December 2019 RLI Power Hour webinar led by Robert S. Pyatt, Jr., MD, FACR, and Randal Roat, FRBMA. During the case study session, an RLI participant emphasized the importance of having a golden parachute clause built into one’s contract in case the practice is sold to a private equity firm. This applies to any radiologist joining a new practice.

In the financial session, Geoffrey D. Rubin, MD, MBA, FACR, and Lawrence P. Carr, MA, MBA, PhD, emphasized the importance of being able to speak the language of finances. As a leader in a practice, one has to understand and be able to analyze the data presented by the CFO. They noted that one may have to think outside the box in understanding complex financial situations where there is no clear immediate answer, but that it is always better to be “roughly right rather than precisely wrong.”

Lastly, for young physicians searching for a new job, the lectures given by Lawrence Muroff, MD, FACR, and Frank J. Lexa MD, MBA, FACR were particularly relevant. Dr. Muroff emphasized what to look for in a practice, and Dr. Lexa discussed how to be successful early in one’s career. For radiologists pursuing a career in academics, Dr. Lexa stressed several key points:

  1. Develop a research focus for oneself
  2. Develop research alliances
  3. Participate in subspecialty societies
  4. Publish
  5. Apply for grant

For radiologists entering private practice:

  1. Be available
  2. Be affable
  3. Be accurate
  4. Work one’s share (and err on a bit of a side of more)
  5. Be sociable
  6. Contribute to the non-clinical side: practice-building activities, hospital committees, meetings, etc

The ninth annual RLI Summit is already being planned for September 11–13, 2020, and promises to expose radiologists to new ideas and strategies.