CAR President, Dr. Gilles Soulez Shares Highlights From his Inaugural Year as CAR President
The pandemic has presented many challenges for the radiology community. COVID has not only changed our practices but also added to the extensive waitlists experienced by patients for medical imaging. Even with procedures returning to more than 80% capacity in most jurisdictions, pandemic protocols, while necessary, have added to the time it takes to complete medical imaging tests. The shortage of human resources is another significant factor limiting our productivity across the country. As a result, patients are now waiting even longer than before, creating a desperate situation for imaging in Canada. Under the leadership of the Board of Directors, the CAR has demonstrated resiliency and leadership during this difficult time, emerging stronger as one of the leading specialty societies in the pandemic response.
Operating in a Pandemic Environment
In response to the pandemic the CAR shifted its efforts to focus on providing enhanced member value through online resources. We ramped up our guidelines and took on new projects including the development of a Lung Screening Program, education on Abnormal Call Rates for Breast Imaging, and the development of the Canadian Referral Guidelines. While these projects are ongoing, we have made excellent progress. In addition, we shifted most of our education to be virtual. In 2021 we had an extremely successful virtual Annual Scientific Meeting, welcoming over 700 participants. We amplified our offerings on RAD Academy, the CAR’s learning management system, and delivered a series of webinars for members focused on radiology. We also moved the CAR’s Mammography Accreditation Program online. The ASM in 2022 is taking place from April 7-10th in Montreal. This meeting will be hybrid in format, allowing participants to attend in person and facilitate networking, while allowing those who are unable to travel to take advantage of the outstanding scientific and educational programming online.
The CARJ continues to flourish. Under Dr. Patlas’ (Editor-in-Chief) leadership. We have increased the number of submissions to the journal and raised the overall impact factor by 30%.
We also acted in an advisory capacity to the federal government to help with the management of medical imaging during this trying time.
$1.5 Billion Investment in Medical Imaging
A $1.5 billion investment in medical imaging equipment and health human resources is at the forefront of our priorities. A survey conducted in the summer of 2021 indicated that the greatest obstacle for radiologists to reduce the backlog for medical imaging is health human resources. During the 2021 Election, the Federal government announced its commitment to invest an additional $5 billion to the provinces to help with the reduction of wait times. MRI was referenced as one of the key areas of expenditure. We have capitalized on this promise and have met with MPs in charge of healthcare or finance portfolios for all political parties, as well as the Minister of Finance and Health’s offices advocating for a portion of this money to be invested in medical imaging. Advocacy has never been more important. Without these investments to help provincial governments invest in medical imaging, we are facing a national crisis, particularly as the population continues to age.
We continue to work with our provincial counterparts across the country to raise awareness for radiologists and the importance of medical imaging in Canada. We have expanded on our existing partnerships and have led several sucessful campaigns including Breast Cancer Awareness, MRT Week and International Day of Radiology. The coverage on social media was extensive. It is initatives such as these that help to define the value that medical imaging can bring to the healthcare system as well as raise awarness for our role in providing lifesaving patient care. We are also in discussion with the Canadian Heads of Academic Radiology to increase our collaboration to futher improve our educational and research portfolios. Thanks to the leadership of Jessica Dobson, Resident and Fellow Section Chair, we are providing high caliber educational content and mentoring opportunities to our trainees. We have made significant effort to train and engage medical students to attract the best to our speciality and to help educate our future referring professionals to order imaging for patients that is relevant.
Recognizing our Members
With the support of our members and a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, I believe we have emerged stronger than ever before. The work that we continue to do in improving patient care is first class. The commitment that radiologists have demonstrated is recognized not only in Canada but internationally.
Special acknowledgement goes out to our Board of Directors who have done an amazing job in representing their peers and for being the voice of radiology in Canada. Shout out to Dr. Ania Kielar, CAR Vice-President, and Dr. Mike Barry, CAR Past President, who have presented themselves in such a professional manner through our advocacy efforts and paved the way for this good work to continue. A big welcome to Alison Harris, who is previous President of the BCRS and a great addition to the board team.
Our focus on advocacy, education, guideline development and building strong partnerships in the medical community is what continues to help the CAR position radiology and radiologists at the forefront of patient care. We can only go up from here. I am predicting many positive developments on the horizon for 2022. I personally have enjoyed the ride so far and am impressed by the high level of expertise and dedication of radiologists across the country during these difficult times. I am looking forward to another stellar year of growth and development for our radiology community with the CAR.
As always, we could not do what we do without our members, and we are grateful for your continued support. Your engagement across the country to shape a collaborative and synergistic vision to advance radiology is more necessary than ever. We will start the new strategic planning for 2023-2028 in January. Your feedback and engagement will be instrumental in helping the CAR define our priorities over the next five years.
Wishing you and your families a safe and happy holiday season.
Dr. Gilles Soulez, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FSIR
President of the Canadian Association of Radiologists