RBMA 2018: McGinty looks back, gears up

If radiology is to fulfill its promise to increasingly operate as a patient-centered specialty, radiologists and radiology administrators must not only partner with patients on clinical care but also “understand who patients are in their family and in their community.” Such heightened engagement can only improve collaborative decisions that add up to, for example, good stewardship of appropriate imaging.

So stated Geraldine McGinty, MD, MBA, of Weill Cornell Medicine in an April 7 session at the Radiology Business Management Association’s 2018 PaRADigm conference in San Diego.

McGinty also spoke about changing payment models, AI and related data-science opportunities. The common theme connecting her topics was their anticipated place on her list of priorities when she becomes the first woman to chair the American College of Radiology’s board of chancellors later this spring.

With that distinction surely top of mind for all present, McGinty saved her most compelling material for the tail end of her talk. That’s when she shared—evidently by request of RBMA executive director Bob Still—a personal reflection on leadership in light of her ascent within the ACR as well as the field of radiology as a whole.

She introduced this part of her presentation by expressing her lifelong admiration of the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win one of those in two different sciences.

“Marie Curie is certainly somebody who has inspired me,” McGinty said. “I have a very vivid memory of being a little girl reading a workbook about her. The first Nobel prize that she got was awarded to her husband, who refused to accept it unless she was included.”

As it happened, the ACR awarded Curie with a medal of its own in 1921, McGinty noted.

Teamwork doesn’t just count—it adds

Pivoting to the essentialness of teamwork in providing modern healthcare, McGinty suggested every leader is, in and of her- or himself, necessarily “incomplete.”

“None of us knows everything and none of us does everything well,” she said. “The sooner we get beyond that”—namely, the expectation that some one individual can do everything, and do it well—“the sooner we can start really thinking about where we need to fill in our gaps.”

Meanwhile, when it comes to building teams, physicians are often handicapped by the way they’ve been trained, she said, warning against “seeing ourselves as sort of the lone hero. Sometimes yes, we do have to make difficult decisions on our own, but the way we think about healthcare now, we really have to be more focused on building effective teams.”

McGinty exhorted the RBMA attendees to be ready to persevere when building productive teams turns out to be more difficult than expected.

“The notion that we get the best results when we bring diverse teams together sounds really great,” she said. “And it is great. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.”

“Certainly it’s something I struggle with in my day job: bringing people together to break down silos, bringing together people who approach problems differently,” McGinty said. “Some people come into a meeting and want to discuss things openly,” while others prefer to do more thinking before speaking.

“It’s hard,” she said. “It’s something we all have to work at.”

Over-mentored, under-sponsored?

From there McGinty segued into a sidebar on how best to form and prepare the next generation of radiology leaders.

“For women, sometimes it feels like perhaps we’re a little over-mentored and under-sponsored,” she said. “There are a lot of people telling us what we should do, as opposed to opening the door and getting us in the room where [consequential things are] happening.”

She said she had personally been fortunate to receive plenty of help from magnanimous senior-level radiologists and business leaders throughout her career. More than one had not only opened doors for her but also nudged her to walk through them.

“None of us gets hatched as a leader,” she said. “And yeah, I’m the first woman to do this [at the ACR]. This is not because there haven’t been qualified women before. Any of you who know some of the women leaders in our profession know that they are incredible women.”

Infusion of youthful energy

McGinty said she continues to benefit by wise and knowledgeable mentors and sponsors, many of whom are younger than she. In fact, she said, she’s greatly inspired and encouraged by the generation now beginning to enter medicine and set their sights on radiology.

Here she described one-on-one contact she’s recently enjoyed with instructors and students at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, part of the School of Medicine at the City College of the City University of New York. The Davis school is aimed at helping inner-city youth succeed in pre-med and postgraduate medical studies.

“The goal is to send most of these kids into primary care, but they have an active radiology interest group,” McGinty said before explaining that she’d been asked to organize a radiology-specific student panel and lead the group at a community event.

“It’s an incredible group of young women,” she said. “The people in the audience, who represented all races and ethnicities, were so excited and engaged with radiology as a potential career. So I don’t feel like we have to look too far for the future of our profession. I’m incredibly excited, and I’m looking forward to the next couple of years.”

McGinty closed on a note of gratitude for the radiology business management leaders gathered before her in San Diego.

“I’m certainly looking forward to working with all of you,” she said. “It has been a great collaboration. I’ve learned so much from those of you with whom I’ve worked.”

McGinty was introduced by a fellow incoming woman leader, Christie James, MS, of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, who began her term as RBMA board president the very next day, April 8.