To the delight and great relief of RSNA leadership, the society's first scientific assembly and annual meeting held in Chicago's McCormick Place was considered a success. A total of 12,192 (including 1,589 non-RSNA members and 4,473 exhibitors) attended the gathering, held from November 30 to December 5, 1975. RSNA was now able to expand its meeting as radiology expanded. In early 1976, John W. Beeler, M.D., the immediate past president, wrote an editorial in Radiology asking, "How large can our umbrella grow?" The general response by RSNA members was that, with the support of the Society's educational meeting now in McCormick Place, the radiology umbrella could grow much larger.
Credit for CME
Another boon to the RSNA Scientific Assembly was an earlier recommendation by the American Medical Association (AMA) to require proof of continuing medical education (CME) as a condition for re-licensure. This is currently required by about three dozen states. Previously, some medical societies and hospitals had required documentation of CME as a requirement for membership maintenance. During the 1960s, the AMA became involved in accreditation of medical education to consolidate the efforts of those medical societies and, in part, to keep government agencies from becoming involved. By the end of that decade, the AMA House of Delegates had approved implementation of a Physician's Recognition Award to acknowledge participation in CME.
Throughout the early 1970s, some RSNA leaders recognized that RSNA had to protect its annual scientific program by becoming part of the accreditation process. In early 1974, the Society was given permission by the AMA Council on Medical Education to award credit hours for its CME activities. With the scientific assembly at McCormick Place, RSNA planned for dramatic increases in Society membership and meeting attendance.
Accreditation also drew RSNA and the AMA closer together and made RSNA leaders realize that the Society could not operate isolated from other medical organizations. Soon, an RSNA appointee represented the Society in the AMA House of Delegates, and the Society participated more actively in the AMA Section Council on Radiology, which had been created in 1925 by 1922 RSNA President Albert Soiland, M.D.
The Society also began to reach out to its Canadian members. This was, in part, due to the efforts of R. Brian Holmes, M.D., who, in 1976, was the first RSNA president from Canada. RSNA Executive Director Adele Swenson also provided an opportunity for the exchange of information with Alva Pentecost, then-executive director of the Canadian Association of Radiologists.
In 1976, the United States was celebrating 200 years of independence. The July issue of Radiology sported a patriotic-looking red, white and blue cover. Dr. Holmes and the RSNA officers prepared for a second annual meeting at McCormick Place. George Schuyler, RSNA Director of Scientific Meetings, planned for more lounge areas, as well as a slide-preview room for paper and course presenters. Also, a new plenary session, the Arthur W. Erskine Lecture, to be given in honor of the 1925 RSNA president, was established with a bequest from Betty Erskine, his wife. Henry S. Kaplan, M.D., from Stanford, was scheduled to be the first Erskine lecturer.
However, many RSNA members had been complaining about the time of the scientific assembly, arguing that a meeting immediately after Thanksgiving took them away from family and friends during the beginning of the holiday season. Consequently, the 1976 Scientific Assembly was held from November 14 to 19. This scheduling change took a few RSNA members by surprise. According to one story of questionable authenticity, a radiologist showed up at the Palmer House after Thanksgiving that year to check into his room and was told by the doorman that "RSNA was two weeks ago".1 Yet RSNA meeting planners could not continue to schedule the scientific assembly in early November because the time was already reserved for the meeting of the American Medical Institute.