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  • My Turn: Focusing on Professionalism is Valuable for the Image of Radiology and Radiologists

    By Stephen Chan, MD

    November 1, 2017

    In every situation, healthcare workers need to comport themselves with the greatest degree of professionalism. Changes in imaging technology, medical knowledge, electronic communications, and the social and healthcare needs of patients have required radiology professionals to adapt their practices in order to provide optimal care as patients navigate the healthcare system.

    Since its inception, the RSNA Professionalism Committee has provided educational courses on current issues in professionalism that are relevant to today’s radiology practice. More recently, the Committee has widened its scope to develop and maintain enduring educational material on medical professionalism. As professional standards evolve, and as the field of radiology adapts to changes both inside and outside the healthcare environment, the Committee focuses on helping our colleagues stay aware of salient changes in medical professionalism.

    RSNA 2017 Educational Courses

    At RSNA 2017, the Committee is presenting four educational courses:

    • “Developing Competency in Non-Clinical Professional Roles in Radiology and Medicine” covers non-clinical roles for radiologists including leadership in radiology societies and serving as a study section reviewer.
    • “The Newly Hired Radiologist: Lessons for Aspiring, New and Experienced Radiologists” addresses needs and challenges facing the beginning radiologist, as well as ways to assist new radiologists transitioning out of training. The development of social media in private practice, including patient portals, will also be covered.
    • “Authorship in Radiology” discusses the recent developments in publishing as to what truly constitutes authorship, and will describe the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) criteria in detail.
    • “Medicolegal Issues for Radiologists; To Divulge or Not to Divulge: Diagnostic Misses and Errors” will examine the expectations and challenges diagnostic radiologists face when they encounter a difference regarding the assessment of a prior imaging study.


    Enduring Online Educational Material

    The Committee fosters the development of enduring online educational material in several ways. Educational vignettes demonstrate important points in medical professionalism, using scenarios that simulate real-life situations. A format that is similar to the familiar clinical vignette allows readers to delve quickly into a sticky professional situation and choose among various alternatives to arrive at an appropriate assessment and create a reasonable solution. Each multiple-choice question is followed by an explanation of the correct and incorrect responses, with description of the relevant principles and facts. The vignettes are relatively brief, allowing readers to complete one or more during short breaks at work, or they could be expanded for discussion in a classroom setting. Several additional vignettes will be released in 2018, with topics including patient privacy, physician burnout and humor in the workplace.

    The Professionalism Educational Toolkit references a variety of educational materials and is continually reviewed and updated.

    The Committee also maintains and recertifies the Ethics and Professionalism online courses that were initiated by the American Board of Radiology Foundation. This series of 11 online courses covers important topics in medical professionalism including conflict of interest, human subject research, relationships with vendors and ethics in graduate and resident education.

    Professionalism as a Team Endeavor

    Professional standards and behaviors develop as a function of many complex interactions within the broader healthcare community, often making it difficult for individuals to ascertain where professional boundaries lie. The RSNA Professionalism Committee provides a forum for members to explore and expound upon specific topics and learn from one another. My participation and service on this committee for nearly a decade has been rewarding both professionally and personally, given the array of remarkable opportunities for networking and intellectual contributions. Committee members have a role in informing healthcare professionals and influencing public opinion on various issues in medical professionalism. I would certainly encourage all interested radiologists to volunteer their time and efforts to one of the many RSNA committees.


    Stephen Chan, MD, is a neuroradiologist and associate professor of radiology at Columbia University in New York City. Dr. Chan serves as chairman of the RSNA Professionalism Committee and as a member of the Research & Education (R&E) Research Trainee Grant Study Section and the R&E Education Study Section.