ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Leading the Way

Radiology leaders share their stories, advice and lessons learned in a new RLI podcast.
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In every single circumstance one faces, lead with compassion and make that visible — it’s the most important thing every single day.

—Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS, FACR
June 30, 2020

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
— President John Quincy Adams

The field of radiology boasts a deep bench of leaders who inspire those around them to dream, learn, and do. The ACR’s Radiology Leadership Institute® (RLI) brings those leaders’ stories to life in its Taking the
Lead podcast.

Strong leaders are more important than ever as the radiology field grapples with how to move forward in a post-COVID-19 world. Personal conversations and words of wisdom from radiology’s most influential leaders can provide hope and inspiration in an uncertain time.

The series was conceived by host Geoffrey D. Rubin, MD, MBA, FACR, professor of radiology and bioengineering at Duke University, and Anne Marie Pascoe, senior director of the RLI and the podcast’s producer. “We felt that there was a big opportunity to introduce the radiology community to its leaders in a more personal manner,” Rubin says.

Rubin has interviewed more than 20 leaders who “provide a wealth of insight into the state of our specialty, the state of our field, it means to be a radiologist and a radiology leader,” he says.

Rubin elicits full histories from each guest by asking about their childhood and early schooling experiences. “Each guest’s leadership story is unique,” Pascoe adds. “And it is our goal to profile as many as we can to make sure all listeners recognize some of themselves in these leaders.”

Everyone Rubin speaks to has a unique story, but there are consistent themes that arise again and again. We’ve compiled some of the lessons that have helped successful leaders navigate the ever-changing healthcare landscape, along with tips that can help radiologists at all career levels to develop their own leadership skills — even in the midst of unprecedented challenges.

1. Seek out mentors. Leaders at every stage of their careers credit mentors along the way with providing valuable advice and support.

“Having mentors and sponsors is very important. People who will, to quote Hamilton: An American Musical, ‘get you in the room where it happens.’” ACR President Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR, chief strategy officer and chief contracting officer for the Weill Cornell Physician Organization (Episode 8: Leading with Mindfulness and Inclusiveness)

2. Listen. Though it may be tempting for new leaders to implement their own ideas, listening can be your greatest asset.

“When I became [department chair], I had a lot of ideas, but the best thing I could have done was listen. I really wanted to understand what the problems were.” Sanjay K. Shetty, MD, MBA, FACR, executive vice president for corporate and business development at Steward Health Care (Episode 14: Listening, Learning, and Leading)

3. Cultivate strong teams. Leadership and teamwork have never been more crucial, and a team-based approach is key to providing excellent patient care and creating a positive and effective work environment.

“As a leader, you can either have a philosophy that people work for you, or you can have a philosophy that you work for the people you're leading.” James H. Thrall, MD, FACR, chair emeritus of the department
of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital
(Episode 9: Leading with Integrity)

4. Focus on improving patient care. Outstanding physician leaders commit to improving patient care, and continuously seek solutions and better methods for providing excellent care.

“Our satisfaction scores have improved — that is a major win. It doesn't happen quickly, but over time, it's really great to say, ‘You know, we're doing something special here. We are definitely doing some great
patient care. And we can measure, and we can track, and we can see improvement.’” Ricardo C. Cury, MD, FACR, chair and CEO of Radiology Associates of South Florida in Miami and chief medical officer of
MEDNAX Radiology Solutions
(Episode 10: Leading with Vision)

5. Step out of your comfort zone. The podcast guests encourage all of today’s aspiring leaders to learn skills that will help them thrive outside of the clinical setting. However, a global pandemic requires an
all-hands-on-deck approach, and experienced leaders may need to step away from their comfort zone to assist colleagues on the front lines.

“I think it's important to spend a good chunk of your time away from what you're most comfortable with. So step away from the clinical realms into informatics, step away from the informatics realm into business, step away from the business realm into what patients are talking about.” Rasu B. Shrestha, MD, MBA, chief strategy officer and executive vice president of Atrium Health (Episode 12: The Making of a Leader)

“To get into a leadership role, you have to extend outside of your own world.” Valerie P. Jackson, MD, FACR, executive director of the ABR and president of the RSNA (Episode 15: Getting Involved)

6. Recognize that leadership is a journey. “No one is truly born a leader; leaders are developed,” Rubin explains.

“I really look at leadership as a journey where you never perfect it, but you are always working on it and continuously learning.” Carolyn C. Meltzer, MD, FACR, professor and chair of radiology and executive
associate dean for faculty academic advancement, leadership, and inclusion at Emory University School of Medicine
(Episode 11: Leading to Serve)

7. Embrace and accept mistakes. Many of the podcast guests are quick to acknowledge that mistakes are part of their career journey. “I love this saying: ‘You haven’t played the game unless your uniform gets dirty,’” Rubin says. “We learn through our mistakes. No one comes through unscathed and clean — mistakes are the way we learn as leaders to be effective.”

“You can't say yes to everything. You have to focus and prioritize; you have to create a learning system — making sure that you have the right metrics to hold yourself accountable, track successes, and continue to learn from both the successes and the failures.” Rasu B. Shrestha, MD, MBA (Episode 12: The Making of a Leader)

8. Demonstrate personal and professional flexibility. Healthcare professionals at every stage of their careers have personal demands that require flexible schedules, but as the medical system grapples with a global pandemic, everyone must adapt to changes in their personal and professional routines.

“While typically women are still the parent that needs the most flexibility after childbirth, I think it's really important to recognize that the other parent is equally in need of flexibility. Whether it's personal health issues or, as I'm starting to deal with, aging parents — we all need flexibility.” ACR President Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR (Episode 8: Leading with Mindfulness and Inclusiveness)

Every crisis is an opportunity. So grab it and run with it, and it will shake you up.

—Hedvig Hricak, MD, PhD, FACR

9. Reframe adversity as opportunity. Hedvig Hricak,MD, PhD, FACR, shared these words of wisdom in episode 13. That advice was prescient, as many leaders and aspiring leaders are managing unprecedented challenges. Hricak sees a crisis as a learning opportunity and urges colleagues to never give up.

“I always say, ‘never waste a crisis.’ Every crisis is an opportunity. So grab it and run with it, and it will shake you up. Sometimes looking back, when I was told ‘no,’ it actually was good for me because I thought really hard about how to turn it around and play to win — not to whine.” Hedvig Hricak, MD, PhD, FACR, chair of the department of radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and past president of the RSNA (Episode 13: Leadership is a Choice)

“In every single circumstance one faces and certainly [during a crisis], lead with compassion and make that visible — it’s the most important thing every single day.” Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS, FACR, executive vice president for health sciences at Michigan State University (Episode 6: Leading with Compassion and Intention)

10. Keep improving your skills. Continuing medical education is the industry standard, but successful leaders don’t stop there. The Taking the Lead podcast series is part of the RLI’s library of programs for
radiologists who want to advance their careers and gain leadership skills. Many of the podcast’s guests have earned MBAs, and several guests have participated in other esteemed leadership programs
such as Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM), a year-long part-time fellowship for women faculty in schools of medicine, dentistry, public health and pharmacy.

“I think we should always be continuing students. I am always up for learning something new. Look at where you can have increased self-awareness — developing and strengthening your existing leadership
skills, as well as developing new ones.” Judy Yee, MD, FACR, university chair of radiology at Montefiore and professor of radiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Episode 2: Serving Vulnerable Populations from Coast to Coast)

“For me, [ELAM] was transformative. [Earlier in my career] I didn't quite look at leadership as a discipline to be studied. But ELAM really was much more intentional about skill-building and teaching you principles that came from the business literature that could apply to leading groups, change management, negotiating, presenting, and garnering support for new ideas.” Carolyn C. Meltzer, MD, FACR (Episode 11: Leading to Serve)

11. Prioritize personal time. Preventing burnout is a major concern for healthcare leaders. Maintaining control of your schedule is key to ensuring you have adequate time to unwind and recharge.

“You need to have your time off, you need to have your dedication to your family — you need to nurture that component. I try to carve out dedicated time and a schedule. I think in the end, it's a matter of being disciplined with time and priorities.” Ricardo C. Cury, MD, FACR (Episode 10: Leading with Vision)

Rubin says he has been consistently impressed by the stories each guest shares about their respective careers, and hopes listeners are equally impressed. “We hope [these conversations can] be inspirational,” Rubin says, “particularly for younger folks who are just getting started and don’t have a good sense of what it takes or how people have gotten to where they are.”

Author By Meredith Lidard Kleeman, freelance writer, ACR Press