The ACR’s newly adopted strategic plan is focused on Empowering the Radiologist of the Future, and a key initiative places emphasis on engaging young members and developing future leaders. This is happening not only at the national level, but also at the local level. Early-career radiologists who become involved in their state chapters expand their opportunities to network and find mentors, while also having an impact on state and national legislation and ACR policy. Alysha Vartevan, DO, owner and founder of Camelback Radiology, a teleradiology practice based in Arizona, started her two-year term as president of the Arizona Radiological Society (ARS) in December 2021. Like many of the YPS chapter presidents, Vartevan hadn’t planned to lead her state chapter so early in her career, but when the opportunity arose, she knew it was the right time.
“It was mainly the encouragement of one of my colleagues to get me involved in a leadership role during this part of my career,” she says. “It allows you to meet radiologists in your state that you may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise.”
Vartevan had met ARS Immediate Past President Dane C. Van Tassel, MD, around 2014 at an ACR meeting when they were both residents. When Van Tassel learned that Vartevan was interested in neuroradiology, he recommended she apply to be a neuroradiology fellow at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Vartevan applied and completed her fellowship there, staying in Arizona afterward. Van Tassel knew Vartevan had been involved in the Florida Radiological Society as a trainee and invited her to get involved in Arizona, later asking her to become vice president of the ARS.
Getting involved first at the state level isn’t as intimidating as it might be to jump straight to the national level, Vartevan says. “It’s been a great experience,” she says. “I’m very fortunate I’ve been involved as a resident and fellow with the ACR because it’s really helped foster a lot of relationships early in my career with people in very different settings.”
Amplifying YPS Voices
Getting involved early also amplifies the concerns and issues that matter most to young and early-career professionals at the national ACR level. “In recent years, the YPS has gotten a lot louder in their ability to make their voices heard,” says YPS member David C. Gimarc, MD, president of the Colorado Radiological Society and assistant professor of radiology at the University of Colorado.
Some issues, such as work-life balance and practice structure, may be more important to radiologists just starting their careers, he says. At ACR 2022, several resolutions were co-sponsored and advocated for by the YPS. Adopted Resolution 13 called for radiology practices, departments, and training programs to provide 12 weeks of paid family/medical leave in a 12-month period for attending and trainee physicians as needed.
As part of the discussion, YPS members were able to make the business case for family leave. “When you have happy radiologists and they know they’re going to have family leave, they’re more likely to come to your group and stay with your group,” says Jacob Ormsby, MD, MBA, president of the New Mexico Society of Radiologists and an assistant professor of radiology at the University of New Mexico. Ormsby is also the communication liaison with the ACR YPS Executive Committee.
Another adopted resolution of special interest to early-career radiologists focused on the current job market. Ormsby pointed to the number of private practices being bought by national groups that are not radiology specific. “While the person who has been in practice a long time might see the benefits of being bought out, our YPS individuals were usually left to the sidelines in the sense that they wouldn’t get any money from the buy-out,” he explains. The YPS co-sponsored a resolution that passed at ACR 2022 recommending in part that partnership-track associates receive at least some proportional monetary compensation and be included in discussions related to substantial changes in practice structure or ownership as legally permissible.
Advocating for State Legislation
State and federal legislation can also have an impact on how radiologists train and practice. YPS members can easily get involved at the state level to advocate for or against legislation, educating lawmakers about radiology and the needs of their patients.
“I think a lot of residents and young physicians are shocked at how much happens on the state level,” Gimarc says. “We think of policy taking place at a national level, but a lot of it happens much more locally.”
There are often opportunities for young radiologists to educate their legislators on specific issues. “Maybe we don’t view ourselves as experts on a national level, but in reality, we’re what a lot of these legislators are looking for in terms of being able to speak intelligently about things we do every day,” Gimarc says.
In recent years, Colorado members spoke in favor of legislation that included making diagnostic imaging a first line of coverage for women needing breast screening beyond mammography and allowing licensure for genetic counselors who work with radiologists across the state. The breast screening bill became law, but the Colorado governor vetoed genetic counselor licensure. “Those are all issues that very much affect radiology, and it was important for members of our state to be involved in testifying,” Gimarc says.
In Kansas, YPS members were active in the fight against legislation that increased the scope of practice of nurse practitioners to be able to practice without physician oversight, says Mary M. Mitchell, MD, president of the Kansas Radiological Society and a breast radiologist at Saint Luke’s Health System and clinical assistant professor at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC).
While the bill ultimately passed and was signed into law, it showed the need of continued involvement of Kansas members. Mitchell speaks to residents at least once a year about the opportunities to join the state chapter and get more involved.
Her efforts seem to be paying off: several Kansas radiology residents attended ACR 2022. “I do feel like younger voices are heard, respected, and being received well at the national meetings,” Mitchell says. “Obviously, we are the future of radiology.”