Europes´role and responsibility in Radiology

In 2008, the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) will include a Special Focus Session titled "Women in Radiology". During an EH interview, Professor Dr Maximilian Reiser, President of ECR 2008 (Vienna, Austria) discussed this and other aspects of the new programme.

Photo: Europes´role and responsibility in Radiology

Prof Reiser: Professor Helen Carty, former president of the ECR, gave an excellent presentation in Munich on the role of imaging diagnostics in the detection of child abuse.

This generated very positive feedback. She initiated the idea for the ‘Women in radiology’ session, and that’s how it came about. As an example: In the USA, although a female scientist did excellent work, again and again she found her male colleagues were preferred over her. She simply could not advance her career beyond a certain level. However, after she had a sex change, many of the barriers miraculously disappeared!
Self-confident women won’t accept condescension, the patronizing ‘We are doing something for you’ approach. Today, women in radiology – and rightly so – present their issues point blank, albeit not aggressively. Professor Carty will chair the session and Dr Ertl-Wagner (see article below) will talk about her personal experience in ‘Life as a radiologist, before and after children’. Other topics are ‘Eastern Europe: Are the issues the same?’, ‘Family-friendly work patterns: How to integrate them in radiology departments’, and a female colleague from Austria, who has lived and worked in Sweden for some years will ask: ‘Can you be a good parent and a good academic radiologist?’
We will address two major issues: One: What needs to be done to allow women to reach their full professional potential, despite their obligations as mothers and wives? Two: In everyday radiology life we are experiencing a ‘manpower-shortage’, which is expected to increase considerably. We simply cannot afford to ignore highly qualified, well-trained women.
As for the general agenda of ECR 2008, as usual there will be the scientific and the continuing education programme, but we will also introduce a new programme specifically geared to junior physicians, still in training. Moreover, there are the so-called Categorical Courses that will deal comprehensively and in-depth with one specific topic, for example multi-slice CT, MRI and breast imaging. Finally, there will be those Special Focus Sessions, which will also include, for example, one on fibroid embolisation, which will be presented by a radiologist, a gynaecologist and a patient.
Isn’t this an area where there’s a certain amount of competition with the gynaecologists?
To some extent that’s correct. For the first time we have invited a patient who has even founded a self-help group on this issue. For years she had suffered immensely from severe menstruations and embolisation, but she was able to keep her uterus – which is certainly very important for her, as a woman.

How will your own influence be seen in ECR 2008?
I think by trying to focus more on the patient perspective, in order to counteract the matter-of-fact and technocratic image of radiology. I want to show that indeed we are – and I am convinced of this – a patient-oriented discipline and that we take the emotions, be it of our patients or our staff, seriously.
Furthermore, I introduced something that I hope will be continued by my successor – a new format called ‘Radiology meets Partner Disciplines’. This means, beginning with general practitioners, we want to initiate an ongoing dialogue with other disciplines. We radiologists have two client groups: the patients and, even more important in the daily routine, the referring physician. And it is with the latter that we want to enter into a dialogue. We chose two topics as an ice-breaker: peripheral artery occlusive disease (PAOD) and coronary heart disease (CHD). On both topics we will have general practitioners talking about cases and issues that they are confronted within their daily work and a radiologist will explain the available diagnostic and minimally invasive treatments. For this, we contacted the Austrian and German associations of general practitioners and WONCA, the European Society of General Practice/Family Medicine.

Your predecessors explicitly tried to strengthen the participation of East-European radiologists. Are you continuing those efforts?
Currently, Professor Szczerbo-Trojanowska from Poland is Second Congress Vice-President of the ECR. That is a clear signal and it will not be the end of our activities in this regard. A second region of interest is the Far East. The number of abstracts submitted by colleagues from China, Korea and Japan has increased significantly -- altogether, 20% more abstracts were submitted, which meant we had to reject roughly 67%.
On the one hand, the rejection of a presentation or a poster is obviously sad, on the other the rate of rejections is a clear indicator of the attraction and quality of the congress and its standing in the scientific community. In the end, only the top 30% have a chance to present their work. That means we are number one among the international professional congresses – a fact of which we are indeed proud.
You also asked about innovations. I would like to point out sessions for 2008 that focus on technological developments, such as dual energy CT or whole-body MRI as a screening-modality. One panel member will speak about medical ethics, another on cost issues – both categories that illustrate the social responsibility of radiology and the interface with other disciplines. We want to highlight this and how radiology is embedded in the social context and consequently we will present socially-relevant issues such as ‘the demographic tsunami’. In the future, we will be confronted with different kinds of diseases and more people who will need nursing care. How can radiology provide answers to these questions? Norway has chosen innovative paths such as mobile X-ray equipment that can be taken to nursing homes. The Norwegians found out that not only patients prefer to be examined in their familiar environments, but also that the mobile procedure is more cost-efficient. We will have presentations from Oslo titled ‘The upcoming geriatric tsunami and its consequences to imaging services’ and ‘Mobile digital X-ray services for nursing homes’.

That means ECR is successfully integrating marginal areas as well as social developments?

Let me put it this way: each year, ECR is becoming more conscious of its social responsibility.

30.10.2007

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