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Evolving to Affection—Perspectives on Interventional Radiology
We had a recent Seminars in Interventional Radiology board meeting. During the meeting, the board members tend to go over “the numbers” from Thieme, which includes discussing metrics of success such as the number of article downloads, number of hits on social media, impact factor, etc. We do not discuss the finances of the journal or other “business” concerns, which I appreciate. Thieme handles the business side of things, allowing the Board to focus on what we feel are gaps in knowledge that can be filled through our own publications. After going over the numbers, the Board is presented with some ideas that Bob and I have discussed, and then we open things up to the group. Out of this meeting came some very good ideas, including continuing our “Ethics Corner” (developed by Eric Keller, MD) for the next several issues, and starting to develop another recurring article type (“Back to the Basics” [BTTB]) that will focus on the nuts and bolts of the devices we use. These BTTB articles will be focused on educating individuals early in their training, and will cover things such as wires, stents, embolic agents, etc. It was a good meeting and an hour well-spent, at least for me.
A couple of things struck me as we were having our virtual meeting. First, simply the fact that it was virtual made things a little more difficult—but actually in many ways this virtual platform was preferable to the normal face-to-face meetings we have at the Society of Interventional Radiology (the other SIR) Annual Meeting. I very much prefer the in-person sessions; however, I have to admit that the attendance at the Zoom meeting was far better than we normally have during our face-to-face meetings. People are simply too busy at the annual meeting to be able to carve time out, including typically having to leave the conference center to have a meeting in an adjacent hotel. I am not sure that I can remember a 1-hour board meeting in which more was accomplished than this one.
The second difference with this particular meeting is that it was the first meeting since our board shake-up. A little bit ago we decided to change around the board—not because the prior board was ineffective or dysfunctional in any way, but simply because we needed some new blood to help us think of things in a somewhat different way. A refresh, I guess, more than anything else. It was nice to hear those different perspectives, and many good opportunities to advance the journal came from the newer board members.
The final thing I noticed, though, was deeper and in some ways more meaningful. That had to do not with what was discussed, but rather with who was involved in the discussions. As I looked around the Zoom room, I could not help but be impressed by two things. First, the individuals who I generally looked at as the “next generation” of leaders in our field have fully taken control of the IR scene, as it were. Much of the Board is composed of people who are mid-career but well known in their respective areas of interest. It was great to see the generation following mine speaking their mind without any concerns or anxiety about having a healthy exchange of views between the groups of individuals separated in professional development by a decade or more. It was as it should be—people expressing their views openly and respectfully raising opposition when needed. It was a refreshing break from the rest of the world right now, I can tell you that.
Watching these exchanges back and forth, with everyone (I think) feeling empowered to express themselves, brought another word to mind—intimacy. Now, I understand that many people who are reading this had a cringe-worthy moment right there when I brought up the “i” word. It is not typically a word that is used to describe working relationships. But I really don't know what other word to use. I am coming from a unique perspective, I suppose, in that I know everybody on the board and many of those I would count as close friends. That, of course, isn't why they are on the board, and I would hazard a guess that not only do I know everybody, but everybody knows everybody. And not only do we know one another professionally, but personally as well. Bob Lewandowski and I call each other frequently to discuss important topics or, more often, specifically to not discus important topics. Bill Rilling and I have skied together, Theresa Caridi has tried to soothe my male ego as she and my wife stand up paddle-boarded away from me and Reggie, and Dave Madoff and I have had many conversations about the next opportunity that we were considering in our primary jobs, journals, or societal affairs. And the list goes on. The bottom line is that I know many of these people on the board—and if I don't truly “know” them, I certainly know much about them. These relationships are intimate, and in my opinion these connections foster a much more robust discourse and healthy exchange of ideas that can only push the journal farther than it would go otherwise. Simply put, we care about each other, and the success of the journal reflects on all of us.
I think this intimacy extends beyond the Seminars board, of course, and would posit that our specialty as a whole cares for one another. I'm sure we have all had conversations at meetings or at other venues that extend beyond simply an exchange of ideas. They are check-ins. “How are things going” rarely simply means “…at work.” Once lip service is paid to the professional environment, the conversation quickly evolves to spouses, kids, parents, hobbies, whatever. The important stuff, what really defines us, is also allowed to be on the table. And, as I stated earlier, it is this intimacy, this caring for one another, that pushes us much higher and farther than we would go otherwise.
There has never been a better time, with everything else going on in the world, to care for one another. Times are uncertain, and relationships have never been more important. If we want to take an analytical approach to this, we can talk about “leveraging these personal relationships into something meaningful for both of our organizations,” yadda yadda yadda. I call bullshit. That is a viewpoint that might have prevailed a year and a half ago, but it doesn't fly now. I'd reverse that order—how about instead if we leverage our professional relationships to allow the personal relationships to grow and evolve, to allow us to truly care about each other as individuals, not as doctors or professors or board members. There is no better, no more important time to allow that intimacy into all of our lives.
03 June 2021 (online)
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