by Kyle Wilson, Grad Student Year 4, University of Maryland School of Medicine MD/PhD program

The 2014 SIR annual scientific meeting was a record-breaking event! Of the many students that made the trek to San Diego, eighteen of those students represented the first cohort of medical student-in-training (MIT) scholarship winners. MIT scholars received $500 to help cover their travel expenses, and were treated to a special MIT and residents-in-training (RIT) dinner over the weekend. If you’re interested in becoming a MIT scholar in 2015, you should look for information from the MSC’s PR & Communications Committee, beginning in July.

The medical student program of SIR 2014 had one central focus: the importance of IR clinics to the future of the specialty. The now famous Dotter quote flashed across the screen more times than I can count: (…”if the interventional radiologist refuses to take charge of his patients… based solely on imaging technologies that others can buy… procedures others can learn”). This philosophy is most clearly reflected in the design of the new IR/DR residency program. The first students are expected to enroll in these new programs 2016, and trainees are expected to spend 28-31 months in a clinical setting (IR, ICU, etc.) during their post-graduate education.

While our fearless leaders were talking to medical students about the importance of clinic, they were talking with each other about data. As the affordable care act is implemented across the United States, every physician will be under the government’s monitoring and asked to justify their value. While such scrutiny causes justifiable anxiety, the emphasis on value will ultimately benefit IR. Admittedly, the initial cost of some IR procedures may be greater than the initial cost of comparable surgical procedures. However, most IR procedures can be performed under conscious sedation, as an outpatient procedure, with greatly reduced morbidity. Patients are better and back to work faster than surgical patients. Thus, the overall cost of an IR procedure is significantly less than surgery. Comparable results are delivered for less—our value is greater! Of course, the only way to demonstrate this is to show them the data. Therefore, physicians are encouraged to use electronic registries. The data collected in these registries will be used by SIR to secure the future of the specialty.

While the nuance of the annual meeting varies from year to year, the ultimate focus is always the same: delivering the best possible healthcare to patients. This year, we strive for this noble goal by building robust clinical practices and collecting data to justify the care that we provide.