ARRS: Leadershipthe missing link in rad education

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CHICAGO—In an impressive example of near real-time business intelligence in action, an enterprising radiologist surveyed 72 physicians attending the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) about the lessons they wished they learned in medical school. The results emphasized the need for leadership training and development at all levels.

The advent of the hands-on radiologist?
Few respondents indicated that they wished they learned how to make a better differential diagnosis, explained John K. Crowe, MD, of Scottsdale Medical Imaging in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In contrast, many answers highlighted the need for leadership training and improved communication skills. “Culture was lurking behind many of the answers,” affirmed Crowe.

Unfortunately, Crowe continued, medical education provides little in the way of leadership development. Meanwhile, business and law schools emphasize leadership development.

“If we don’t do a better job of training leaders for medicine we will be doomed to working for others who have acquired these skills in other ways,” opined Crowe. “We need to go beyond teaching students how to crank out relative value units (RVUs).”

Although technology will continue to play a critical role in the radiology profession, successful radiologists of the future will need to develop additional personal skills. “Technology may not serve us as well in the future as our relationships with other professionals,” he said

The looming prospects of capitation, consolidation, utilization controls and accountable care organizations all require professionals well-versed in leadership, collaboration and communication.

“These lessons aren’t a big part of training, but they are critical to practice,” Crowe said.

While radiologists need to learn new behaviors such as leadership and communication, they also need to unlearn some poor habits. “If radiology falters as a profession, it probably won’t be because of technology. It will be more about complacency, entitlement and apathy,” he predicted.

Some radiologists are guilty of a host of poor behaviors such as arriving late and leaving early or a lack of rapport with colleagues and patients. Indeed, the specialty may appeal to future physicians who are less comfortable with direct patient contact and prefer workstations to people.

Crowe offered an assortment of strategies for radiologists of all ages:

  • Get involved in committees at the hospital.
  • Participate in research. It adds value to community and elevates the practice.
  • Focus on quality of service and communication.
  • Validate performance.

Crowe concluded with a list of training and education suggestions to help radiology remain intact as a specialty. Master the traditional core of radiology practice, but teach radiologists how to anticipate and master technological change and evolving practice models, he stated. And finally, he reiterated the need for leadership and leadership training at all levels.