As the Civil War came to a close, President Lincoln made a pledge to those who had fought: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.” That vow is carried through today by the physicians and medical staff who serve and honor America’s veterans. These words resonate with me and my colleagues who have pledged to serve these patients. As physicians, we are proud to work for the Veterans Health Administration — which offers unique opportunities to develop quality and patient-outcome measures in radiology, as well as system-wide, value-based initiatives.
One of the ACR’s strategic priorities is to build collaborative external relationships. Under the leadership of Robert S. Pyatt Jr., MD, FACR, chair, and Eric B. Friedberg, MD, FACR, vice chair, of the ACR’s Commission on General, Small, Emergency and/or Rural Practice (GSER), a strengthening collaboration has occurred between the ACR and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the military. The success of the ACR 2019 plenary sessions on emergency and military radiology (and last year’s session on radiology in the VA) illustrates the value that comes from exchanging ideas and building on important shared initiatives that are part of the strategic focus of the GSER Network VA Subcommittee.
The Subcommittee is working with radiology and radiation oncology leaders in the VA to bring forth positive change through initiatives that increase engagement, participation, and member value. This includes supporting ACR advocacy activities, such as the recent successful effort to abandon a VA proposal that would have allowed non-radiologists to interpret imaging studies. Efforts to build upon ACR-subsidized educational offerings for VA and military radiologists are also priorities.
I met Tahira F. Ahmed, MD, and Michelle L. Dorsey, MD, at the Radiology Leadership Institute® (RLI), and both have brought their leadership experience to the Subcommittee. According to Ahmed, chief of breast imaging at the VA in Washington, D.C., “It is a privilege to be part of a group that takes an active role in improving communication amongst all VA radiologists and, as a result, improving the overall patient experience.” Dorsey, chief of radiology at the Phoenix VA Healthcare Systtem, is currently a White House Leadership Fellow addressing mission-critical challenges and developing cross-agency initiatives.
As a VA radiologist, my personal experience through the RLI has been tremendously positive. I am grateful for the mentoring and support I received while completing the RLI Leadership Mastery program. My involvement in the RLI led to a cultural transformation, as I am always thinking about better ways to provide exceptional healthcare. It is my great pleasure to work with my dedicated ACR colleagues, and to identify and mentor new leaders through ACR. Together, we are collectively advocating to improve the care of our patients. Dr. Friedberg says, “It has been a true pleasure partnering with Dr. Weissman. We have all greatly benefited from his strong leadership and exceptional advocacy efforts, which were uniquely recognized at this year’s annual meeting where he received the ACR’s Advocate of The Year award.”
Other VA subcommittee members include Amilcare Gentili, MD, chief of radiology at the San Diego VA, who says, “The Subcommittee provides an avenue to establish collaboration of VA physicians on a variety of topics, such as patient safety, quality, and research.” David C. Semerad, MD, has served in the Army, and brings his firsthand experience to improving the care of veterans through the Omaha VA. According to Semerad, “All veterans made many sacrifices to preserve our way of life, and the best way to thank them is to give 100 percent every day you go to work.”
Drew Moghanaki, MD, MPH, chief of radiation oncology at the Atlanta VA, is currently leading two national research projects, including the VA-Partnership to Increase Access to Lung Screening — which has now reached over 25 VA medical centers across the country. The success of research projects like these rely upon interdisciplinary collaboration among colleagues and demonstrate what the ACR and VA can accomplish together. Moghanaki and I both serve on ACR’s Lung Cancer Screening 2.0 Steering Committee to move forward these initiatives. According to Moghanaki, “It is an honor and pleasure each day to serve the fine veterans of this country. Together we can show how the VA can lead the way to solve some of our most difficult healthcare problems.”
We are fortunate to have such extraordinary radiologists and radiation oncologists at the VA who, together with the ACR, are moving forward positive initiatives to improve the care of our veterans.
Dr. Weissman would like to acknowledge the role of Eric B. Friedberg, MD, FACR, in the development of this column.