ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

New Chapters in Leadership

RLI scholarships offer access to resources and training opportunities.
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RLI training can foster skills that are sorely needed in the business world. And it can be particularly helpful in terms of how to function within hospitals or in dealing with our business relationships outside of clinical practice.

—I. Ray Kirk, MD, FACR
April 01, 2019

“The Radiology Leadership Institute® (RLI) has evolved to support leadership training at every level and for all pivot points in your career,” ACR BOC Chair Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR, told state chapter officers, councilors, and staff at the annual Chapter Town Hall meeting in January. The chapter leaders who support their members’ attendance at RLI-sponsored events, she said, play an important role in shaping the future of ACR members.

For the past five years, some state chapters have set up the RLI scholarship funds to support their members’ leadership training and career development. The financial award allows residents, fellows, and members-at-large to participate in a host of RLI programs and online coursework. The scholarships are funded through multi-year financial commitments and awarded to recipients chosen by the states’ radiological boards.

State chapters’ efforts have been lauded for guiding members’ career paths — shaping the future of the specialty by creating strong local- and state-level radiology advocates. The RLI’s training opportunities can help identify prospective leaders, prepare chapter members for leadership roles, help them transition from one career point to the next, and instill business skills not taught during residency.

Learning Business

“RLI programs offer the business aspect of radiology that they may not get in their residency programs,” says Lara W. Knowles, coordinator for ACR’s Virginia chapter. “It’s great information about the economics of radiology.”

Knowles says her chapter has had a diverse group of applicants for the scholarship opportunity since the start. “We hope what they learn will encourage them to get involved in more leadership positions — in their own practice setting and within our chapter,” she says.

The chapter tries to split award money between as many interested applicants as possible. There are RLI offerings that fit just about any schedule, Knowles notes. “We really want to get the word out,” Knowles says. “We’re asking members to identify someone in their practice — an up-and-coming leader — who they think could really benefit from an RLI course or event.”

Because awardees are learning things through the RLI that other educational settings don’t offer, Knowles says it’s important that they share takeaways. “We ask them to write up a summary after taking a course so that we can put it in our newsletter and share it with other members,” she says.

RLI coursework puts attendees in a team setting and teaches problem-solving — breaking material up into bites that are easy to digest, says I. Ray Kirk, MD, FACR, president of the Texas Radiological Society (TRS) Foundation. “It can make you think differently and on a broader scale about radiology problems, rather than just talking about the problems,” he says.

Residents have been enthusiastic about participating in the program, says Christy McDonald, executive director of the TRS. “The experience really makes them want to engage when they come back to their programs,” says McDonald, formerly with the TRS Foundation, which carries out the charitable and educational functions of the TRS.

According to Kirk, “The whole point is to give them exposure to challenging issues surrounding radiology — to allow them to learn and develop a skill set that ensures they can function well during challenging times.” RLI training can foster skills that are sorely needed in the business world, Kirk says. “And it can be particularly helpful in terms of how to function within hospitals or in dealing with our business relationships outside of clinical practice.”

“These scholarships are a great way to engage our members and members-in-training,” Kirk says. “Their most valuable takeaways come from the exposure they get to management and leadership roles they may not see in day-to-day radiology practices.”

Forging Futures

RLI on-demand courses, webinars, live events, and online programs give scholarship recipients an affordable and time-friendly way to engage in business practices that demonstrate a commitment to the specialty. Participating state chapters are confident that attendees returning to their practice settings will put RLI resources to good use — strengthening existing professional relationships and building new ones.

Chapter leaders say they are investing in radiologists — and the future of their chapters — by training radiologists to assume leadership positions and advocate locally on behalf of the specialty. “We want [participants] to take away a passion for organized radiology — to gain a real sense of commitment at the local, state, and national level,” says Mary H. Scanlon, MD, FACR, faculty liaison to the RFS of the Pennsylvania Radiologic Society (PRS). “We’re always looking for emerging leaders — those who have been engaged with the ACR RFS and others who’ve been active on our board.”

“There has been an extra push by PRS leadership over the past few years to engage younger people,” says John P. Kline, executive director of the PRS. The focus is largely on trainees, residents, and fellows because they are usually the most burdened with debt, Scanlon adds.

According to McGinty, state chapter work is shaping the future of radiology. “Radiologists are curious, innovative, and never stand still,” says McGinty. “RLI programs can help us advance our profession, together.”

Author Chad Hudnall  senior writer, ACR Press