The continued intertwining of computer developments with radiology led the RSNA Board of Directors to form the Electronic Communications Committee in 1986. Its mission was to evaluate computer software and hardware, magnetic and optical data storage devices and electronic data transmission that facilitate scientific communication. Edward V. Staab, M.D., was selected to be the committee's first chairman.
By the late 1980s, RSNA launched a publication called On Display (now called Buyer's Guide: Radiology Products and Services). Printed each fall, On Display contained brief descriptions and contact information from the technical exhibitors scheduled to attend the upcoming scientific assembly. The publication also included details of new radiology products.
Over the subsequent years, On Display also included news of the Research and Education Foundation and overviews of the work done by various committee members to plan for the annual meeting. Another tabloid ("Colleagues in Commerce") was started by the Society and was targeted to technical exhibitors and advertisers. It was discontinued after only a few issues.
Visiting Professor Program
As RSNA continued to assist radiologists worldwide, a Visiting Professor Program was developed and administered by the RSNA Committee for International Radiology Education (now the Committee on International Relations and Education). This was the culmination of a program first proposed in 1982 by then-President-elect Richard G. Lester, M.D. He had read an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, "Undrained Brains: A Modest Proposal to Recognize Some Contemporary Medical Heroes," by Ralph Crawshaw, M.D., which addressed the problems of "the bright, dedicated, highly trained physicians of the Third World who have chosen to remain and practice scientific medicine under the daunting conditions of their native lands." Dr. Lester believed various medical societies, such as RSNA, should establish travel fellowships to further educate those radiologists.
Subsequently, an ad hoc committee was formed to study the role of RSNA in education in emerging nations. Chaired by W. Peter Cockshott, M.D., of Hamilton, Ontario, the committee determined that the Society could provide the most effective long-term benefits by enriching local educational opportunities at the residency level rather than by supporting individuals brought to North America. The rationale was that a program in which a visiting professor works with the faculty and residents of a host institution would have a more widespread and long-term impact than one in which a resident from any emerging nation trained for a limited time in the United States or Canada.1
The first visiting professor was Edmund A. Franken Jr., M.D., from the University of Iowa. He taught at the University of Nairobi in Kenya for six weeks in 1987. RSNA President Richard E. Buenger, M.D., oversaw arrangements to provide Dr. Franken with audiovisual equipment, videocassettes, syllabi, copies of Radiology, RadioGraphics and donated textbooks, which were left at the university to form the basis of an educational resource center. Dr. Franken fit the description of the ideal visiting professor, defined in a 1988 Radiology editorial by Dr. Cockshott as an "experienced radiology teacher who is flexible and has empathy with the problems of the host institution."
In addition, RSNA continued to assist subspecialty groups within radiology. In 1988, the Society published the first issue of a scientific journal for the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (SCVIR) as part two of the March issue of Radiology. This led to collaboration with SCVIR over the next half-dozen years during which RSNA assisted in the production of SCVIR's official publication, the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.
A Book for the 75th Anniversary
Also by 1988, RSNA leaders became aware of a writer named Howard Sochurek, who had recently published a National Geographic article, "Medicine's New Vision," about new breakthroughs in medical imaging. RSNA Chairman E. Robert Heitzman, M.D., and 1988 Society President Malcolm Jones, M.D., wondered if Sochurek could expand the article into a book with color illustrations that would explain the role of the radiologist to the general public. They believed the book would be an excellent way to promote radiology and to mark the Society's 75th anniversary.
After obtaining the permission of National Geographic, Sochurek spent the next year traveling to interview leaders in radiology. "I found that—more than any other medical specialist—the radiologist has harnessed the computer and devised technologies to extend his diagnostic abilities in exciting and innovative ways," Sochurek later wrote.2
Sochurek's original manuscript was reviewed by leading radiologists. The book was designed and printed by Mack Publishing Company, the same company that had been printing Radiology for more than a half century. The final product, Medicine's New Vision, was distributed gratis to all RSNA members. Soon afterward, RSNA also gave complimentary copies to annual meeting attendees and other radiology organizations.
In the midst of anniversary-celebration plans, two key staff members ended their tenure with RSNA. First, Mary Ann Tuft left the Society for personal reasons. As the Board of Directors formed a committee to search for a new executive director, George Schuyler, director of scientific meetings, announced he would retire in 1989.
For his accomplishments, specifically his assistance in moving the annual meeting from Chicago's Palmer House to McCormick Place, Schuyler was presented with an RSNA Gold Medal at the 1988 Scientific Assembly. Attendance at the 1988 annual gathering surpassed 40,000.
The entire History of the RSNA series, to date, is available on our website.