By mid 1980s, there was continuous application of advanced computer technologies in radiology practice. Therefore, RSNA Board of Director decided to establish a new committee in 1986, which was called “the Electronic Communications Committee”
The objective of the new committee was to assess computer software and hardware, in addition to the magnetic and optical data storage devices along with the electronic data transmission that promotes scientific communication. The new committee was headed by Edward V. Staab, M.D., who served as its first chairman.
On the other hand, RSNA started providing a new publication, which was titled: On Display (now called Buyer’s Guide: Radiology Products and Services). The new publication began appearing in late 1980s. On Display was published each fall; it included information about the technical exhibitors that will participate in the coming RSNA event. The journal also had information about new radiology systems. On Display continued to advance in the following years and started to include news of the Research and Education Foundation.
RSNA Committee for International Radiology Education, which is now known as the Committee on International Relations and Education, started another initiative that was called “Visiting Professor Program” This program was discussed for the first time in 1982 as it was suggested by Richard G. Lester, M.D., the President-elect in 1982.
The idea came to Dr. Lester’s mind after reading an article that was written by Ralph Crawshaw, M.D. and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article was titled “Undrained Brains: A Modest Proposal to Recognize Some Contemporary Medical Heroes,” and it discussed the issues 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.” After reading that article, Dr. Lester thought that medical societies, including RSNA, should start offering travel fellowships to help radiologists in third world by improving their skills.
Eventually, a new committee was established to determine the role of RSNA in providing education in emerging nations. The committee was headed by W. Peter Cockshott, M.D., from Hamilton, Ontario.
The new committee decided that RSNA should begin a long-term program that offers local educational opportunities at the residency level instead of helping, financially, individuals coming to North America. Edmund A. Franken Jr., M.D., from the University of Iowa, was the first professor to travel via the new program. He went to the University of Nairobi in Kenya in 1987, where he stayed for 6 weeks.
Moreover, RSNA continued to provide help to other radiology subspecialty groups. In 1988, March issue of Radiology included the first edition of a scientific journal from the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (SCVIR). RSNA continued to cooperate with the SCVIR for the next 6 years for the publication of its Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.
In 1988 RSNA leaders were discussing the work of Howard Sochurek, a writer who published an article titled “Medicine’s New Vision,” in National Geographic Journal. Sochurek’s article was discussing new breakthroughs in medical imaging.
E. Robert Heitzman, M.D., RSNA Chairman and Malcolm Jones, M.D., the RSNA 1988 President, were thinking to discuss with Sochurek an idea to extend that article to become a book. That book was to highlight the role of radiologists in providing services to the general population. Both doctors thought that such book would be a way to recognize the 75th anniversary of the RSNA.
After getting permission from National Geographic, Sochurek took a year to travel, interview, and collect information from radiology leaders. He wrote later “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,”
His original manuscript underwent revision by leading radiologists. Mack Publishing Company, the company which had been printing Radiology for RSNA for more than 50 years, published Sochurek’s book. The book was titled “Medicine’s New Vision” and it was delivered to all RSNA members. Later on, RSNA offered copies of the book as a complement to the annual meeting attendees and to other radiology organizations.
Finally, while RSNA 75th anniversary celebrations were taking place, 2 of the Society’s key staff member announced their leave. First, RSNA Executive Secretary, Mary Ann Tuft, left RSNA for personal reasons. Afterwards, George Schuyler, director of scientific meetings, announced that he was retiring in 1989. In recognition of his services to the Society, Dr. Schuyler was awarded the RSNA Gold Medal at the 1988 Scientific Assembly. That year’s meeting witnessed more than 40,000 attendees.