Back at the RSNA, but why?

November 28, 2004

I’ve been coming to the RSNA every year for over a decade, but this year I almost didn’t make it. Our vacation slots are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and this year I did not sign up quickly enough. Not only did I not get the week off, I got call for Thanksgiving and the holiday weekend. This chain of events forced me to examine both why I come to the RSNA and whether it was worth the loan shark deals I would have to make with my partners to get here for a few days.

I've been coming to the RSNA every year for over a decade, but this year I almost didn't make it. Our vacation slots are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and this year I did not sign up quickly enough. Not only did I not get the week off, I got call for Thanksgiving and the holiday weekend. This chain of events forced me to examine both why I come to the RSNA and whether it was worth the loan shark deals I would have to make with my partners to get here for a few days.

A few months ago, my boys and I undertook a minor building project on the our farm. We planted a couple of old fence posts about six feet apart. Between them, we strung four bungee cords suspending a small cloth. A giant slingshot. A nearby orchard lets us have its bad apples, and we shoot them 50 to 200 feet into the pasture, depending on wind conditions and the weight of the shooter. My wife wonders why we do this. I wonder why the cows don't leave while we're shooting. I guess they like the apples enough that their willing to put up with the occasional ka-thump. Not unlike going to the hospital every day.

The reason for the slingshot is simple. It's fun to watch apples fly and smash. The reason I come to RSNA is equally simple - it is fun.

This year, I'll justify the trip by investigating 16+ slice CT scanners, since we're just about to buy one. I'll also attend some courses on how best to use one. But I know I could probably do both things more efficiently somewhere else.

I like the magnitude of the RSNA. While not a particularly efficient venue for getting CME credits, it is clearly the place to see leading-edge technology and hear what the best minds in radiology are thinking. As I wandered around the seemingly endless technical exhibits today, I was constantly amazed at how many companies are completely new to me. New equipment manufacturers. New PACS providers. And new companies supplying equipment or services I could never imagine using.

There are a lot more nighthawk-style coverage companies at this year's meeting. Many of them are U.S.-based, while the bulk still seem to be in distant time zones. You have to wonder what the attraction is for the radiologists doing the readings, other than the lack of interruptions, regular hours, no hospital committees, no dealing with insurance carriers, and seldom having to deal with mad clinicians. Maybe we should all just read studies from somewhere else?

Tomorrow, I'm trying something new: a daylong case-based review of neuroradiology. I've never spent a day at the RSNA on a single field. It should be fun.