Over the course of the pandemic, most ACR meetings and services will be virtualized to continue our services, provide value to our members, and lead innovation — while keeping the health and safety of our staff, members, and patients paramount.
September 29, 2020
It seems like a long time ago since we first learned that a virus would come to our shores — impacting our communities and so much of our daily lives. Since that time, much has happened. We have all realized the ebbs and flows of this pandemic. It’s a safe assumption that everyone reading this column has been personally and professionally impacted by COVID-19.
The ACR has had the difficult task of planning our reaction to the pandemic, both for the short- and long-term future of the organization. There are significant financial and strategic implications for the decisions that we are making now and the plans that are being considered for the future.
Most recently, the month-long course at the American Institute for Radiologic Pathology (AIRP®) was successfully delivered via a virtual platform. The effort and dedication of the ACR staff, particularly the AIRP and IT departments, and the AIRP faculty that was required to make this a reality cannot be understated. To attend the AIRP course, residents traditionally separate from their demanding work schedules and dedicate time and effort to advancing their knowledge base — not only from an imaging perspective but from a pathologic one as well. They also participate by bringing cases to the AIRP to expand the library for those who will follow. We often hear in surveys and comments that AIRP is one of the most important and impactful programs in many radiologists’ training. And most do attend as part of their training, with approximately 95% of U.S. residents traveling to the Washington, D.C. area for the course. In addition, the program has seen significant increases in participation on the international stage, with many traveling from overseas to attend. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to attend during training, but, when time permits, I hope to take a sabbatical and experience what the program has to offer.
AIRP isn’t the only program that has been converted to a virtual format in the face of COVID-19. The ACR has made a commitment to suspend all elective travel for staff and leadership through March 2021. As a result, all ACR programs will be converted to a virtual format, including the Radiology Leadership Institute® (RLI) Leadership Summit (which took place in September), the 2020 Imaging Informatics Summit, the ACR Conference on Quality and Safety, and the ACR-RBMA Practice Leaders Forum.
Over the course of the pandemic, most ACR meetings will be virtualized to continue our services, provide value to our members, and lead innovation — while keeping the health and safety of our staff, members, and patients paramount. Many of our programs already took place online, and the pandemic galvanized the desire to add a web component to many activities that previously did not have one. Some of the well-recognized benefits of in-person meetings such as networking, interpersonal real-time communications, and direct human connections will have to wait for more accommodating conditions. However, some benefits of this forced virtual conversion have included expanding asynchronous learning, reaching a broader audience, and experimenting with various online formats.
Indeed — this will be a learning experience for us all. In a broader sense, this transformation underscores the strength and flexibility of our organization and its members. The ACR, as a membership-driven organization, is one of the most influential societies in radiology. We understand that our strong position within the profession is based on our core competencies and our solid and diversified financial foundation. Staying adaptable is vital for the future of our profession. With the long-standing support of our members, we have made investments in our staff and IT structures that enable us not only to adapt but to evolve and innovate. As time goes by, with more information, evidence, and research, we will make our way through this crisis.
During this journey, your ACR is committed to not only advocating to secure the future of the profession — but to build upon lessons learned. We are working to transform our strategic planning so that we are more flexible, more nimble, more innovative, and better equipped to provide value for our members, the profession, and our patients — no matter the challenges.