Considering how health care needs and services differ around the world, what does that mean for IR? Is IR clinical training, regional infrastructure and more ready for such population growth? Are there ways the unique model of IR can help other countries organize delivery models that will meet their populations’ needs?
These far-reaching questions are the focus of the society’s International Division and Steering Committee, chaired by Brian F. Stainken, MD, FSIR. The committee has been hard at work on goals and strategies for some time, yet has new opportunities coming to fruition each year. One recent and exciting development is a partnership with RAD-AID that is designed to bring IR to the most underserved populations around the world. Through RAD-AID, SIR members have the opportunity to teach, guide and mentor interventional radiology personnel within RAD-AID partner health institutions in low- and middle-income nations. In addition, RAD-AID and SIR are collaborating to offer funded volunteer opportunities to SIR member residents and fellows who will serve on RAD-AID teams at international sites.
Such experiences provide incredible opportunities to learn from each other, on a global scale. The more we hear and learn from others about the international large- and small-scale practice of IR, the more valuable our dialogue and contributions will become. This is why international exchanges are so important, another focus of SIR’s International Steering Committee.
One such exchange, the SIR International Scholars Programs—in its sixth year—has awarded 73 international scholarship grants, enabling young physicians from around the world (from 28 countries in 2018) to attend the SIR annual meeting for the first time. See page 38 for the story of how the experience inspired one scholar to start a new clinic in his home country.
Another initiative, the Giveback Project, supports IR educators to travel and participate in educational visits to developing countries or lower-middle income regions, while visiting observerships are providing four IRs from India the opportunity to learn about IR at various host sites in the United States.
At SIR 2018 in Los Angeles, SIR held eight official leadership meetings with international societies that resulted in identifiable areas of further collaboration, from authoring global position statements to sharing quality outcomes data. Also in 2018, the International Division supported members of SIR’s Resident, Fellow and Students Section to attend non-U.S. IR meetings to connect with trainees and leaders from other countries.
SIR continues to focus on increased meeting participation from international attendees and faculty and to encourage greater diversity and richness in clinical curricula. Under the leadership of Annual Scientific Meeting Committee Chair Daniel Sze, MD, PhD, FSIR, and Scientific Program Chair Nadine Abi-Jaoudeh, MD, FSIR, SIR 2019 will have a record-setting diverse faculty roster including women, underrepresented minorities, LGBTQ and international practitioners.
The SIR Speaker’s Bureau has bolstered our efforts to increase awareness and participation of non-U.S. based physicians—not just for the annual meeting but other conferences and venues as well. SIR has set an aggressive goal of 20 percent international attendance and 30 percent international abstracts by SIR 2020. Generally, more than 15 percent of our physician attendees come from abroad and the 2018 meeting in LA brought a big spike in over the target for abstract submissions. With acceptance rates consistent regardless of country of origin, we hope to close the gaps through the new SIR Group and Individual International Affiliate programs, which offer an easy pathway for non-U.S. IR physicians to be a part of the SIR community and to enjoy many valuable society benefits.
Every connection made is an opportunity for dialogue, knowledge-sharing and relationship. SIR needs this foundation of human connectivity and support to meet the education, training and readiness needed for delivering modern IR care to diverse patient populations around the world. Each one of these programs and activities is a bridge between IR in the U.S. with IR practitioners worldwide. Taken together, these initiatives stand to usher in a new era for SIR with the potential to transform the reach and speed with which IRs learn, connect and share with one another around the world. SIR is getting out ahead: we’re working at the technical level, the member level and the strategic level to make sure clinical IR is there when patients need us, no matter when or where they may be.