When J. Paul Nielsen, MD, MPH, Taj Kattapuram, MD, and Andrew K. Moriarity, MD, got together to sponsor a resolution for ACR 2020, they had one objective — empowering a new generation of radiologists to shape the future of the College. At ACR 2020, their vision became a reality when the ACR Council voted to draft a resolution for ACR 2021 to amend the bylaws to allow the RFS and YPS to submit resolutions. Nielsen, immediate past president of the Colorado Radiological Society, Kattapuram, a councilor with the Colorado Radiological Society, and Moriarity, immediate past chair of the ACR YPS, sponsored and facilitated passage of Resolution No. 35: RFS and YPS Standing to Submit ACR Resolutions.
“With the ability to submit resolutions, RFS and YPS members will become an active part of the ACR governance process, empowered to make changes to the College based on their unique needs as trainees and early career radiologists,” says Nielsen, a radiologist at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus. “Knowing that they have a voice will empower this new generation of radiologists to shape the future of the ACR.”
Kattapuram, a radiologist in greater Colorado, agrees. “We believe this resolution will spur interest in policymaking,” she says. “It will allow younger members to feel more comfortable raising concerns to the ACR because they can go through their sections instead of trying to find a specific councilor or trying to convince their chapter to sponsor a resolution.”
Kattapuram recalls that the idea for Resolution No. 35 first began as a discussion on a YPS executive committee phone call — which then became an email involving a majority of the most active members in the YPS and RFS. “Since I was a councilor, I volunteered to be one of the sponsors of the resolution and wrote the first draft,” she says. According to Kattapuram, she wanted to be involved because she felt it was good policy for the ACR. “I have mentored and guided first-time councilors who didn't have any understanding of health policy,” she says. “Learning and practicing resolution writing and policymaking as a trainee who represented Massachusetts at the AMA is where I built the confidence to participate in the College as a councilor.”
Kattapuram and Nielsen believe that seeing the process of writing, submitting, reviewing, and potentially passing new resolutions will help early career members understand the governance process as active participants. “As many state chapters and councilors represent the concerns of members who have been involved with the ACR for many years, it may be harder for trainees and early career radiologists to address their concerns before the Council,” says Nielsen. “The ability to submit resolutions will make sure that our next generation of radiologists have a voice.”
For many trainees, participation in their section meetings is their first and sometimes only experience in the College, notes Kattapuram. “Usually the first meeting will be soaking it all in,” she says. “Subsequent meetings may involve more active participation. If they have the experience of feeling heard, this could help build their confidence to be stronger participants in the College and pursue leadership roles when they become attendings.”
Knowing that they have a voice will empower this new generation of radiologists to shape the future of the ACR.
Moriarity notes that now that the resolution has passed at ACR 2020, the next step will be to implement the policy through a bylaws amendment. “This year a workgroup will figure out the language to enable this process, and that will be presented next year for the Council to vote on,” says Moriarity. “The RFS and YPS leadership plan to keep their members engaged on this topic throughout the year and at ACR 2021 to maintain strong support.”
According to Moriarity, since its passing, Resolution No. 35 has already empowered the RFS and YPS to voice their concerns and have an active role in ACR governance. “We encourage RFS and YPS representatives to address issues that will help them meet their needs and their goals, and to understand that the ACR is truly a society worth participating in throughout their careers,” he says.
Moriarity, Kattapuram, and Nielsen urge RFS and YPS members to reach out to their leadership with their specific ideas and work to formulate them into a resolution for consideration before the councilors of the ACR membership. “Speak with others who have experience with this and model your initiatives after previously submitted and successfully passed resolutions,” advises Nielsen. “Learning to write resolutions, and then working to support them in debate during the reference committee hearings will prepare trainees and early career members to understand Council governance procedures,” adds Moriarity.
Kattapuram agrees. “The experience can feel daunting because it involves quite a bit of formal and unfamiliar language,” she says. “There are guidelines on the ACR website on how to write a resolution (see sidebar). I can tell you from my experience that writing resolutions and debating them on the floor of meetings is extremely exciting and fun. It really makes you feel like you can contribute to health policy in a meaningful way. The ACR cares about its younger members who are the future leaders of the College and the profession. Our voices matter.”