As we gather to celebrate our Centennial at the ACR 2023 Annual Meeting, I can’t help but reflect on how far the College has come. When the ACR was founded by Albert Soiland and a group of radiologists who were dedicated to elevating the specialty, there was no way they could have imagined, let alone predicted, how integral the ACR would become not only to radiology but to medicine. They set up the College as a foundation for what we are today: the leading voice of radiology in state, national and, increasingly, international practices of all types and sizes.
In March, I was in Austria for the European Congress of Radiology with the ACR’s CEO, William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR, to meet with leaders of the European Society of Radiology (ESR) and others from around the world. There, we found a lot of energy and terrific scientific content, including a presentation by Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR, our Data Science Institute chief medical officer, speaking on “Recent Developments and Implementation Strategies on AI.”
We were impressed by the appreciation and respect the international community has for the ACR and for our contributions to the practice and science of radiological care. Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, ACR president, presented to the International Forum our perspective on “Responsibilities of the Radiologist as a Clinician.”
Dr. Adrian Brady of Cork, Ireland, the ESR president, made the point that all radiologists are “clinicians” and should not be separated from other specialties such as internal medicine, surgery or pediatrics because our primary clinical contact with patients is largely via imaging. We all recognize that our interventional radiologists perform minimally invasive image-guided procedures while our breast imagers and our radiation oncologists provide face-to-face patient care on a regular basis. This role of radiologists as clinicians is one that I and our BOC leaders have long espoused, and that I personally cherish... making a difference for patients is the reason I became a doctor.
We had the opportunity to meet a radiologist from Ukraine who shared with us the strong commitment of the Ukrainian medical community to their country’s independence and the challenges of working under war conditions. His dedication to serving his people with a focus on a bright future was truly inspiring.
Soon after the European Congress, we were in Egypt for the International Congress of Radiology (ICR), co-sponsored by the International Society of Radiology (ISR) and the Egyptian Society of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine (ESRNM). There, Dr. Thorwarth and I served as the ACR’s representatives. In addition, past ACR board chairs and presidents have proudly stepped into ISR leadership roles — with Dr. Allen becoming ISR president and Geraldine McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR, former chair of the ACR’s BOC, leading the ISR Education Committee. In that role, Dr. McGinty also served as co-director of the ICR meeting.
The ISR is radiology’s voice for agencies such, as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Those groups set international standards, policies and goals that influence care around the world, with a focus on “low- and middle-income countries.” A major focus of the IAEA is radiation protection, and the ACR is commonly cited as a source of valued guidance via our quality and safety efforts, experience and expertise. Our Appropriateness Criteria and our Practice Parameters and Technical Standards serve as models for others to benefit patients on a global scale (next, we’ll target the universe!). Our close collaboration with the physics community via our Commission on Medical Physics also has global influence and has been represented at two recent IAEA conferences.
Drs. Allen, McGinty and I also contributed presentations during the scientific sessions on lung cancer screening, artificial intelligence and brain imaging. I was numerous radiologists from Egypt and other countries. A major role of the ISR is to deliver high-quality education to radiologists from resource-poor regions. Many attendees from surrounding countries have very limited radiology equipment and were glad for the exposure to quality educational content and lessons they could take home.
No matter where in the world you go, there’s hardly a person you meet who hasn’t been touched by radiology in some way. It is clear the specialty has dramatically improved the landscape for patients and their healthcare.
The underlying message is that radiology has become more essential than ever across the spectrum of medicine. This did not happen overnight, nor did it happen easily. In this issue, you’ll read about the fight the College took on for radiologists to be counted as doctors under Medicare Part B, rather than as hospital employees. You’ll read about how the ACR fought for women to be screened for breast cancer starting at age 40 in an effort to catch and treat illnesses faster. These are just some of the many ways the College has helped elevate the profile of radiology and improve patient care and outcomes.
To bring these stories to life, four committees of volunteers and ACR staff members have been working for the past year, sharing their efforts in our publications, podcasts, webinars and educational programming. One committee focused on researching the ACR’s history, and another on projecting how we will go into the future to continue elevating the specialty. A third team focused on marketing and promotion, and a fourth on the agenda for the Centennial Gala to be held on Saturday, May 6, at ACR 2023 in Washington, D.C. You will see the culmination of this work at the annual meeting, as well as here in the Bulletin in this special Centennial issue and a series of articles that will be published through mid-2024.
In my more than three decades with the ACR, I’ve seen many changes firsthand — as have many of you, my colleagues. It’s important to understand our history, especially as we look to the future. One thing is clear: The College is a collection of the brightest and most dedicated minds in radiology. It always has been, and I know always will be! I look forward to heading into the next century with you.