ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Passing the Baton

The outgoing editor of the JACR® reflects on how the journal has carved out a unique niche in the radiology community.
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First, learn to read and write well. It doesn’t matter what you want to be. If you can read and write well, that’s a huge step forward in building a career.

—Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR
October 30, 2018

After launching the JACR® and spending 15 years at the helm, Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR, will be stepping down as editor-in-chief at the end of this year. The former chair of radiology at the University of Virginia talked with the ACR Bulletin about the journal’s early days, the evolution of the specialty, and his plans for what comes next.

Is it true that you didn’t want to be the editor-in-chief initially?

What I wanted was for the ACR to not have a journal at all. About a year before the College decided there was going to be a journal, I got called into an all-day meeting to discuss that very subject. At the conclusion of the meeting, there was a vote. Turns out I was the only one who voted against it. And I did that because I didn’t have the foresight to see the niche that the JACR now fills, which is non-clinical content that helps radiologists care for their patients, run their practices, and chart their careers.

In the end, I’m grateful I lost that vote. This has turned out to be a great job, and the publication has grown into something I feel very proud of and I hope readers look forward to each month.

What value do you see for radiologists using social media?

Virtually everything out there is a two-edged sword, but this is a real two-edged sword. The fact is, it does allow for the development of a community and relationships far beyond what used to be available. You used to have to know people, network, and meet in much more formal situations. So that part of it is good. You become more of a piece of a larger whole.

On the other side, you can sink an enormous amount of time into social media. It’s fun and you can persuade yourself that it’s very useful — that you’re building a network. But the truth is that an awful lot of what you read on Twitter and Facebook is really not worth your time, in my opinion. I think there’s a lot of junk on social media, so when you participate it’s important to know when you’ve reached the limit of its value to you.

You write an editorial each month. Do you have a favorite?

My single favorite editorial is from April 2018. It’s about how entertainment can provide a history that really didn’t occur. If you allow yourself to believe that you’re watching a true story, you can become an easier mark for misinformation.

What advice would you give to young radiologists just starting out?

It’s really an individual thing, but I would say there are three things to consider. First, learn to read and write well. It doesn’t matter what you want to be. If you can read and write well, that’s a huge step forward in building a career. The second thing is you should get the advice of not just one person, but many people — particularly people who have some vested interest in you. Third, don’t be afraid to change. You can make mistakes and learn what you could do better. Discover what you enjoy and what you do well. For instance, from the moment I got my first job, I thought I was destined to be the chair of a radiology department. I thought that’s what I was going to be, but that turned out to be wrong.

What advice would you give to your successor?

While Dr. Carlos has had a lot of advice from me up to this point, I would say the main thing moving forward is to trust her own instincts and continue to be as creative as she can to keep the JACR on the leading edge of journalism. I think we’ve done that successfully.

Outgoing JACR® Editor-in-Chief Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR, chats with Ruth C. Carlos, MD, MS, FACR, incoming JACR editor-in-chief, at the ACR 2018 opening session.

What are your plans after you step down from the journal?

Well I’ve already written a few books that you could call creative nonfiction. I’m working on a third now, and it’s really a challenge because it’s technical enough that there may not be much readership for it. It’s about how the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering was established over a 20-year period by a small group of radiologists. It’s got some real heroes in it — wonderful characters who fought off impossible odds.

I also plan to continue playing golf and do more fly fishing, all over the world. It’s going to be a great retirement.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I’m extremely grateful for the ACR. I really owe my career to the College. The things I’m proudest of and where I’ve made the most difference in our specialty all came through the ACR. When you get the opportunity to do something that truly has meaning to other radiologists into the future, you feel fortunate.