During her tenure as chair of the ACR State Government Relations Committee, Loralie D. Ma, MD, PhD, FACR, has been a key resource to ACR members across the country. Ma, who serves as president of the Maryland State Medical Society, has led the ACR State Government Relations Committee’s efforts to advocate for patient access to safe, high-quality, radiologist-led medical imaging care. The Bulletin spoke with Ma, whose term as chair of the State Government Relations Committee ends this month, to hear about the highlights of her tenure, her views on leadership, and her advice to the next generation of radiologists.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned while working on state and federal advocacy efforts?
The ACR is very good at working with states at the grassroots level and providing information to state chapters on the hot button issues in radiology across the country. I’ve learned that ongoing close relationships with legislators are very important because legislators will be less receptive to your issue if you have not established a level of familiarity and trust. As physicians, we can provide valuable information to our legislators, and we need to take the time to build and strengthen these bonds.
What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of being involved with the ACR?
I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to learn about all the various legislative issues happening across the country and the chance to interact with chapter leaders throughout the years. The connections and friendships are invaluable, and it makes advocating a lot less intimidating when you meet other dedicated, like-minded, and passionate people. I’ve also enjoyed engaging with younger physicians and reinforcing the importance of advocacy. It brings a fresh perspective to issues, and elected officials always love to hear from a diverse array of their constituents. I’ve always brought young physicians and residents to the ACR’s annual Hill Day in Washington D.C., and it’s invigorating to have them accompany me.
What do you consider to be the biggest successes of your tenure as chair?
Over the past few years, the Committee has seen an increase in state-level legislation, and this has placed a much larger spotlight on ACR’s state government relations activities. I’m thankful for all the additional resources that immediate past chair of the BOC, Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, and other senior leaders have secured for the ACR’s state government relations program. These additional resources have allowed the ACR Association® (ACRA) to establish a Scope of Practice grant, to hire additional staff, and to begin streamlined development of educational content.
What do you believe is the most useful skill for an advocacy leader?
I firmly believe that good leaders don’t always lead the charge; they also build the foundation and the ground game. It’s important for leaders to think about other peoples’ points of view, as there may be perspectives that you are not considering when formulating your arguments. The ability to sit and listen to the thoughts of the opposing side is vital in the realm of political discourse. As a leader, it is also important to know what you don’t know and be able to find the information you need. With the hundreds of legislative issues going on across the country, it is vital to know where to go for more information. The ACR and its government relations staff are a great source of knowledge, and I encourage any ACR member to reach out to them with any questions.
What advice would you give to young radiologists who want to advocate for their profession?
Get involved! One of the first and easiest things a young radiologist can do is to join their state radiological society. This will allow them to learn about issues impacting their profession and to meet other like-minded radiologists. I’d also encourage young radiologists to take advantage of the wide range of informational and practical resources that the ACR offers its members around advocacy and legislative issues on both the federal and state levels. The future landscape of healthcare is forever changing, and by getting involved you can dictate the future of radiology.