The Europen Society of Radiology works hard to represent radiologists throughout the continent. But Europe is a diverse place, and the support of European national radiological societies, most of which are institutional members of the ESR, is essential. The ESR National Societies Committee is our primary forum for communication and cooperation with those national societies. We spoke to the committee chairperson, Prof. Deniz Akata, to find out a little about the committee’s functions and her own role.
ESR Office: What is the main purpose of the National Societies Committee (NSC) and how is the committee composed?
Deniz Akata: The main purpose and continuous task of the NSC is to consolidate and strengthen relations with the ESR’s national institutional member societies. Regular communication between them and the ESR is very important, especially on matters regarding the ESR’s educational, research and professional policies. In a way, the ESR provides guidance and benefits to member countries in many professional issues. On the other hand, we need national societies to maximize the promotion of these activities. The presidents of the ESR’s 44 national Institutional Member Societies are ex-officio members of the committee.
ESR: How does the committee work in practice? Where, when, and how do meetings take place?
DA: The ESR National Societies Committee officially meets in Vienna once a year, during the European Congress of Radiology, where the chairperson of the committee gives a brief report regarding the ESR’s annual activities and answers delegates’ questions and gets their feedback. On the other hand, we have continuous relationships with the national societies through mailings, surveys and newsletters throughout the year. The ESR Annual Leadership Meeting, usually held in November, is also an excellent official get-together with our institutional members. At the last meeting, which took place in Florence in November 2014, representatives of the institutional member societies actively enrolled and presented their points of view regarding some of the most common and challenging topics in our profession. All day long, the meeting was very well attended and very fruitful discussions were held.
We also try to get into personal contact with each national society during their national congresses or meetings. To this end, we started the initiative to hold “National Society meets ESR” sessions, which has been very welcomed by the national societies
ESR: What are the main issues currently on the committee’s agenda, and how are they being dealt with?
DA: Currently, the main issues where we need continuous support and collaboration from the national societies are the harmonisation of education, and safety and radiation protection issues. For example, an update of the European Training Curriculum for Radiology (ETC) was published online by the ESR during ECR 2015. There are three different versions available: one for undergraduate education; one for level I-II training; and one for Level III (subspecialisation). It is very important to harmonise and standardise education in radiology throughout our community. I am very happy to say that the ETC has been officially supported by 38 ESR institutional member societies and 28 ESR non-European associate institutional member societies so far. Likewise, the number of candidates for the European Diploma in Radiology (EDiR) has been increasing every year.
Courses held by the European School of Radiology (ESOR) have recently taken place in many European and non-European countries, including China and Mexico. We have also offered ESOR scholarship and fellowship programmes to our members. The International Day of Radiology, jointly organized by ESR, ACR and RSNA, was celebrated by 37 of the ESR’s national institutional member societies last year.
ESR: What is the function of the National Societies Committee’s Working Group on Economics and which issues is it currently dealing with?
DA: Following a decision of the ESR Executive Council on June 19, 2013, the ESR Working Group on Economics was established under the umbrella of the ESR National Societies Committee, with the aim of dealing with costs and services of the healthcare systems in the individual European countries. One of the objectives of this Working Group is to collect data from the ESR’s national institutional member societies with regard to the economic profile of the radiology profession.
So far, we have published a paper on the renewal of radiological equipment in Insights into Imaging in September 2014. A paper on the consequences of the economic crisis in radiology, based on a survey sent to the ESR’s national institutional member societies, will be published soon in Insights into Imaging. We have also prepared a position paper on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Currently we are working on professional insurance and public procurement in radiology.
ESR: What new issues do you foresee the National Societies Committee will be dealing with in the coming years?
DA: I think the ever-increasing workload of radiologists and threats from outsourcing will be the major challenges for every country. I also foresee that national societies will be dealing with new hybrid imaging regulations and education programmes.
ESR: How important do you think it is to have national radiological societies officially involved in the ESR committee structure?
DA: Being actively involved in the ESR committee structure creates awareness and a sense of belonging. It has immense importance in the sense that it increases our power to lobby national and EU groups to solve some of the current challenges facing radiologists.
ESR: Which other ESR committees or subcommittees have you been part of and how did you initially become involved?
DA: Apart from being a congress lecturer, I served as a member of the programme planning committee for ECR 2011 and ECR 2012. I was the co-chair of the Abdominal and Gastrointestinal System Subcommittee for ECR 2014.
I was elected chairperson of the National Societies Committee in March 2013. In this function, I am also a member of the Working Group on Economics, the Education Committee and its European Training Assessment Programme (ETAP) Subcommittee, the Quality, Safety and Standards Committee and its Audit and Standards Subcommittee, eHealth and Informatics Subcommittee, and Radiation Protection Subcommittee. Furthermore, I am also a member of the Publications Committee and the ESR Patient Advisory Group (ESR-PAG).
ESR: What motivates you to devote your time to the ESR and how has being involved affected you personally and professionally?
DA: When I first became involved in the ECR programme planning committee, I was deeply impressed at the excellence achieved in the organisation of the ECR meeting. That was a great motivation. When I got involved more closely in the ESR, I was so amazed by the professionalism and dedication of the ESR office staff and how well the society is run. It is highly motivating just to be part of it and an honour to serve this organization.