Radiologists impact the diagnosis and care of patients from behind the scenes every day. But for radiology chief resident Bhavya Rehani, MD, that simply wasn’t enough. She recognized the important impact health care reform and legislative efforts can have on patient care—and wanted to get more involved.
Rehani recently spent a week in Washington, D.C., learning about health care policy as part of the American College of Radiology’s (ACR) J.T. Rutherford Government Relations Fellowship. She was one of four residents from across the United States selected for the 2011 fellowship.
"As radiologists, we sit in a dark room and interpret scans, but we are so far removed from the greater challenges that the field and healthcare in general are facing” says Rehani, who is completing her final year of radiology residency at UC Health University Hospital. "Legislative reform affects physicians and the way we deliver care to our patients in an enormous way. I think it is very important to get involved in the political interaction with Capitol Hill that affects all of us.”
The J.T. Rutherford Fellowship, which was founded in 1993, is intended to give current radiology residents a more in-depth understanding of state and federal legislative and regulatory processes. The ultimate goal is to equip radiologists with the knowledge they need to positively influence and inform health care policy through professional medical societies like ACR.
During the week-long fellowship, Rehani met with members of the U.S. Congress as well as the ACR staff and lobbyists to learn about the governmental factors that influence the overall profession of radiology.
"The fellowship was a great opportunity to interact with the U.S. congressional representatives and a chance to provide our perspective to them,” adds Rehani. "For example, many congressmen didn’t know about the extent of imaging cuts since the Deficit Reduction Act and its detrimental effects on patient access to imaging.”
She continues: "It was a valuable experience in understanding how to get your voice heard about the issues pertaining to health care. The lobbyists for ACR work really hard to protect our interests, but it makes a difference when the radiologists themselves voice their concerns.”
Rehani, who is in her final year of residency, intends to focus on neuroradiology in her professional practice. She will begin a fellowship in neuroradiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston next year.