2004 INTERVIEW OF ART HALL
BY JOEL CULVER
ART HALL: When I was a young technologist, Margaret Perry and Ann Thorne were real insistent that I join the Society of Nuclear Medicine because there were lots of benefits. Margaret Perry (Reyes, then) was the first one that got me involved in the Technologist Section of the Society, and it was over my many objections. I could think of about a hundred reasons not to belong. She could think of several for me to belong, so she ‘‘nagged” me into joining and becoming involved. I was working at John Peter Smith Hospital; I had just returned from working at the University of Utah. It was in the early '70s, right after the Tech Section got formed. I was originally a member of the Society of Nuclear Medical Technologists (SNMT), and I believe Bill Otte, who is the director of radiology in Galveston, was president of that group—another little-known fact in the history of nuclear medicine.
Bill became President of the Southwestern Chapter’s Technologist Section after the SNMT went away. Several years later, Margaret Perry was president of the Tech Section for the Southwestern Chapter, and then she was elected as the Secretary for the National SNM-TS. Sometime in the early '80s, she convinced me to become a member of the SNM-TS. I got involved and became president of the North Texas Technology Section (NTTS) after seven attempts. Everybody—everybody left the field, so they finally elected me by attrition. It was horrible way to win.
The NTTS was a very active section for many years. There was George Peiffer, Debbie Merten, and Jay Lippert. There were a number of people involved in that era who were working in hospitals. I just never had enough firepower to unseat them, but when I did, they remained unseated till they changed fields. There would be so many people running for office back in the, I guess, late '70s that in order to win you had to be very popular—you might have four people running for president of the NTTS.
One of my many memorable events: Our first North Texas symposium. I worked with a Marilyn Johnson in Dallas, and we put that program together. It was successful, so we had many more. We actually started getting a little money in our bank account. Once we had $300 in the bank account, and Dave Campbell came and said, you know, we need to have a meeting. So we had $300, and we wanted to have a meeting—we were going to have to book space that cost $3,000, so we went out on a limb. And we put this brochure together. We mailed it out, and people showed up in flocks for the education. We came out OK, I think we made about five or six thousand dollars total. So we had money in the bank to go from then on. Prior to that Marilyn Johnson, President of the NTTS, worked on programs in the beginning—I think she was at Baylor at the time because the physicians up there were real supportive of technologists in Dallas and Fort Worth—Dr. Steinbach and Dr. Hodges, and Dr. Harvey. Pearson was in Fort Worth, though. These guys were supportive of a lot of things that we did.
JOEL: What about Richard Rome?
ART HALL: Dr. Rome got involved later; he was very supportive of techs too. He is supportive now but he was not involved in the early year of the NTTS. Other physicians were more involved at the beginning. Dr. Bonte and his co-worker, Dr. Bob Parkey were involved as well as Dr. Lugo and Dr. Harvey. Dr. Bonte would speak at some of the early meetings. Dr. Parkey invented the use of PYP for myocardial infarct imaging. I believe that Drs. Lugo and Harvey were involved with this, too. These doctors are all from the Dallas area.
JOEL: Was Bonte was involved in brain research, too?
ART HALL: No, Bonte and Chuck Graham were involved in MUGA studies—Chuck Graham was a technologist, and he was the father of or the godfather of all the nuclear med techs for a long time. He was really involved in a lot of the MUGA studies, the early work that set up MUGA studies, and heart imaging. Chuck Graham was a down-to-earth, good guy. I liked him a lot. He was very influential in the early days by establishing protocols.
ART HALL: As time went on, the physicians got more and more disconnected, and the technologists got more and more involved. During the early days of our seminars, the physician would actually bring a liver in, a real liver and have a pathologist to give a presentation on it. So you actually got to see it, kidney, livers, thyroids, and brains. They were actually there, and as technologists you got to go in and observe as they dissected the organ.They showed the anatomy and where the radioactivity was collecting to make the image. This made imaging more meaningful and gave us a better understanding of what we were seeing on the scan. We even did bones. Back then we could take those into the hotel and do demos and—not so nowadays.
And then we evolved from color to black and white. You know, originally we had color images off the Picker scanners. They had colored thyroids, colored brains, colored livers, and then we went to black and white, when they started to come out with the Anger cameras instead of the rectilinear. You went from the color dot matrix from the rectilinears to the Polaroids. Everything was in black and white, and then a miracle occurred in the late '80s and there was actually color coming out in images when they were taking them off of the computer, and I'm thinking, “Heck, this is old stuff. Nothing new here.”
We could do bone scanning with F-18 back in the '70s with those five-inch crystals that were two inches thick on those rectilinears. It stopped when Tc99m came along. No problem. Then we went to those little ol' dinky 10-inch field-of-view Anger cameras.
JOEL: 19 PM tubes.
ART HALL: Yep, and then somewhere down the line in the early '80s they elected me as president of the Chapter. I think out of the 40 members, at least 10 voted, and that was it.
JOEL: First time I met you was in 1982 at the Society meeting at the Fairmont in New Orleans. Shirley Ledbetter told me I needed to find you. I had applied for nuclear medicine school there and had not been accepted, but I kept in close contact with her. She suggested that I find you in New Orleans and get to know you. So in '82 what was your role in the Society?
ART HALL: I wasn't holding any office in '82. I was just very active politically in a lot of things that were going on. I believe that if you're going to be in a profession, you better be involved in that profession. Otherwise the profession is going to become what you are, uninvolved—and it's going to be disconnected. And you better be thankful for people who are willing to take roles and get things done because if you don't, then it disappears—the profession disappears.
I've had my name on the ballot many times, you know, but rarely was I elected. That's not the opinion of people who think that I'm so involved and all, and I just put my name on the ballot and get elected immediately. No. It didn't happen that way.
So many things went on in the Chapter, and I was very involved. When I was president, I was concerned about getting membership up and obtaining continuing education credits for our attendees. That was the beginning of the CE credits, and even though approved CE credits were not yet required by the Nuclear Medicine Technologist Board or by the states, it still seemed important to get CE credits. It was only a few years before both the board and state required approved CE credits.
I was interested in getting membership involved, particularly in the most boring aspect of their life called socioeconomic issues. This dictates how much money the hospital is going to get paid for studies and how much money the techs are going to get paid. Those things are important because they directly impact your livelihood. You may like to scan people and all that, but the bottom line is you've got to think about the socioeconomic impact.
As president of the Chapter, we were able to get the bylaws changed so the National Council delegate would be a multiyear term. I was instrumental in that because the very first National Council meeting I attended as president, I didn't know what was going on. You attend two national meetings, the winter and the annual. I just sat in the chair and kind of looked at everybody because I didn't know what was going on. I said this has got to be a multi-year office because you cannot comprehend and become effective in the organization unless it's multi-year.
So with that, the Chapter voted to change the bylaws. I decided to run for National Council delegate. Chuck Smith, who was either the president or the past president in charge of nominating, decided that Art Hall didn't need to be on the ballot, so he wouldn't put my name on the ballot.
JOEL: Is that right?
ART HALL: Right. Margaret Perry and Shirley Ledbetter were on the ballot. These were two very influential and very important people.
JOEL: Yes, they are.
ART HALL: They have my respect, both of them—very knowledgeable—but I was mad at Chuck Smith, so I sent out postcards to the entire technologist membership of the SWC and asked them to write me in for the NCD position. They wrote me in, and I won the election. I was absolutely floored that I could win this election against Margaret and Shirley. Either that or they paid people to write me in. I never asked them. But that's when my march to the top kind of started then within the Society because then I was involved in a lot of committees, and did a lot of work then. I was just trying to get people involved and keep them involved to some degree. I considered that pretty much a success because after I was National SNM-TS president, we followed up with four other Southwestern Chapter members as National presidents, just kind of run.
The first National SNM-TS President from our Chapter was Brad Pounds. And then after Brad was Mickey Williams was from southern California kind of broke up the run from the SWC. Paul Hanson was next. Then Terri Boyce. And then after intervention by a couple of other chapters we had Martha Pickett, from Arkansas. So we had quite a long run. They accused me of having a dynasty from the National level. I was running a dynasty, so as a result of that, the Southwestern Chapter received a great deal of recognition in nuclear medicine nationally. The people that followed me were very smart and very active and very driven to get things done.
JOEL: Now on the National level, you promoted Nuclear Medicine Week.
ART HALL: I was chairman of the Nuclear Medicine Week campaign. I was pretty active working with Jim Worrell, and we got the proclamation signed by the president for Nuclear Medicine Week. They carried it on from year to year. In 1987 I was chairman of the committee for National Nuclear Medicine Week, and we had to develop two posters, a button for your lapel, and promotional material. I'm proud to say that the poster that I jointly designed with Ella Negretto from the Society won an award on the East Coast for best poster design. I was very proud of the fact that we won the award.
It must have been the year that I was acting president that I was doing that poster, because I remember I had been to a meeting with the American College of Nuclear Physicians to get some money from the Corporate Committee to create a video on recruitment. Now my wonderful friends in the Tech Section said there's no way in the world that any of the technologists are going to get any money from the Corporate Committee. I thought, well, this was a nice challenge, so I was determined to get some money. I got busy and started doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work and got a verbal commitment from several members on the Corporate Committee that if I were to attend the American College of Nuclear Physicians meeting, which happened to be in Hawaii, then they would make some money available for the technologists to produce a video—not the amount that I wanted, but some money.
So Tom Caparella—who was the chairman of the Corporate Committee and the vice president of Siemens for Nuclear Medicine—said, “If you come to the meeting, I'll see that you get some money.” So I wrote up a proposal that included a budget and told them I would provide a follow-up for two years afterwards about the recruitment video, and that I would put their name on the video. I said, “If you'll give me the money, I'll do that.”
I didn't do much on the production end of the video. I was merely the man getting the money. Brad Pounds took over the contract phase and Mickey Williams took over the production because I think that the workload should be shared around as should the rewards. Since Brad Pounds was the guy that was running the lead on that, I called him up and told him that we received $20,000. So he got a contract with a company in California. Mickey Williams was there, and he was the “Johnny on the spot” to work with that production company and got the video done.
Lange Productions filmed this video at a couple of the hospitals out there in California. It came out when I was president of the National SNM-TS at the Washington, DC meeting. The video won three awards for Lange Productions for its content, style, and artistic quality. It was a very successful video.
JOEL: It still is a good video. I use it for recruitment even now in spite of the—the style changes in clothes and things. The message is still as fresh today as it was then. There's a high demand, short supply, and I use it at the high school level to recruit people to join.
ART HALL: I think that thing was absolutely wonderful, and at the same time we were working on that, it was a very controversial time when I was president—let's put it that way—because Paul Cole was elected president, and he was the president before me, and he passed away the third week of his presidency, and so when he passed away, then I became acting president for a year.
JOEL: So Paul's year began in San Francisco?
ART HALL: Yes, in San Francisco. I was president-elect elect or PEE, and Paul Cole was the president-elect there and Marcia Boyd was the president, but then as soon as Marcia finished the business meeting as President, the short-lived PEE becomes the PE, because you learn about your election at the meeting, and then the next thing you know they're installing the next president Paul Cole, and you're the PE then, president-elect, so I was president-elect for about three weeks.
So on July the 4th, Paul Cole passed away, and I became the acting president. My leadership training was “on the job.” Nowadays, they go to extensive leadership training. They do all these fancy things to learn all about it and spend a lot of efforts, but I didn't spend too much time on that. I leaned pretty heavily upon Brad and many of the people who are in the Southwestern Chapter. I'm not afraid to call somebody up and say I need help and ask them to help me out. Really, I don't mind leaning on my friends when I need something done like that.
And I guess it was about that same era we were getting licensure passed in the State of Texas., I was on the MRT Board for the State of Texas for about five and a half years. When they started restructuring that board, I decided I'd just work on a couple of people I knew to see if they'd get on the board, one of them being Joel. That lasted a few years too. I wanted to have friends in high places there, so that was the best way to do it. Put your name in the pot, get on that board, and hold those influential positions such as the Chairman of the Rules Committee.
JOEL: Rules Committee. I remember you asking subtly to do that.
ART HALL: That's right, and, as you know, I wanted to make certain that we had a nuclear med tech on that board, so I was hustling you. At the same time, I was working on Walter Durham in Galveston to put his name in because I didn't know where they would pull the representative from because they were very interested in getting a diverse group of people from around the state. I figured you were from East Texas, and Walter was black and from Galveston, and I figured the two of you had a pretty good shot.
Well, it worked out fabulously, and we made some gains in that scenario. Back when I was President of the Tech Section I was having a great deal of difficulty working any kind of nuclear medicine technology programs into the Chapter program, so we ended up one morning with a 7 a.m. meeting on quality control, I believe. And to my surprise, approximately 70-100 people showed up to that meeting at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I was really surprised to see that.
JOEL: There's a message there.
ART HALL: So after that, the physicians were a little bit more agreeable to let us work our program into the overall annual program. In Art's opinion, their biggest fear the physicians had was that if the technologists are holding a separate meeting, everybody will be attending that meeting instead of their annual chapter meeting. Most of the technologist meetings deal with how-to's and whys instead of the science and physics behind something in specific. I was very glad that stuff happened, and we were able to get it worked out so we could actually meet at reasonable times from that point on.
So from the Southwestern Chapter perspective, if you were to ask me any kind of disappointment, I don't know that I had any big disappointments, except maybe running for office and not getting elected many times. But for the most part, I had a great time and stayed the course, so to speak, and we moved forward. Then, because I was pretty aggressive about things and decided to get active on the National level, I was glad we had a pretty good voting block in the Southwestern Chapter, and I didn't mind asking our members from the Chapter to vote for me because the voting turnout on a National election was low. In those days it was about 20 percent of the voting membership and I figured if I could get 60 percent of the Southwestern Chapter just to vote for me, I would win because of the fact that so few people voted from anywhere else.
It worked, I don't know how it worked or by how much I won. I think what happened was they just got tired of seeing my name on the ballot. On the other hand, you have to kind of earn your stars, so to speak. So I had served as chair of several committees before being successfully elected.
JOEL: You said that the Southwestern Chapter had a strong voice in the National office. Were you aware of any other chapters that were envious of the success of the Southwestern Chapter and tried to emulate them?
ART HALL: Oh, yes. Many of them changed their National Council delegate position so they were multiple years. After making that change, then they started grooming some of their leadership to take positions and office. It was not one of those things that went unnoticed, and fortunately for me, we had several chapters supporting our positions on the National Council because there were two to three people on the National Council who were, I would say, a bit overbearing and pessimistic. As a result of that, their chapters lost a lot of influence. So leadership transitioned to where it was just going to be southern—like California, Southeast Chapter, Southwest Chapter. Those would be the ones that kind of ran the show for at least 12 or 13 years. And even in that scenario, you know, like some of the former Southwestern Chapter members were in there like Lynn Roy who was National President from the Southern California Chapter. She was from New Orleans originally, so it was kind of interesting; and Mickey Williams from Southern California was originally from Jamaica, he has been the only non-national to become President. He had a green card, and he became president of the Tech Section with this unbeknownst to anyone else. He was elected right after Brad Pounds.
And, you know, probably one of the most impressive people in the Society for me was Mickey Williams, because he was, above all else, a gentleman, and that was very important because if you needed something done, he could get it done in a gentlemanly fashion. And then there were a couple of hardball guys like Brad and I who used the Lyndon Johnson technique getting things done. But if you needed somebody just to be nice and get something taken care of, I usually called on Mr. Williams, and he'd get it taken care of pretty easily.
JOEL: In spite of increased responsibilities, I recall that as a National president, you still attended Southwestern Chapter meetings and local Chapter meetings as well. How important was that for you to be back in the grassroots and attending meetings at the local level?
ART HALL: Well, that’s where I'm at. It's where I live. I guess the only thing that I got accused of was when I was in my second year of presidency and unable to attend the Southwestern Chapter meeting (because there were a lot of issues at that time), Virginia Pappas—who was the deputy executive director of the SNM—attended the meeting and got hit with a lot of questions. But, since then I think I have made all the Southwestern Chapter meetings and as many local meetings as I can make. I don't always get that done in this day and time because of my job.
But I guess being president has made me more well-known nationally, so I get around the country a lot more, and I don't have quite as much influence on the Chapter level. Not many people know me on the Chapter level, but there's lots of potential in the Southwestern Chapter now for future leadership, and one of the things that I've kind of looked at over the years is when we're not getting enough money or something is not going on, I don't have any hesitation to meet with the leadership of the Tech Section to make a few suggestions.
JOEL: So what do you see is the direction for the Southwestern Chapter, Tech Section at this point?
ART HALL: Well, I think the Southwestern Chapter has technologists who are have a lot of potential, and they're going to do a lot nationally, particularly in the arena of PET. We've got some of the best hospitals in the nation in the Southwestern Chapter between Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, just to name a few. Lots of research takes place in those areas; and the technologists that work in those facilities are not just sitting on the sidelines. A lot of them are involved and active nationally, and they're involved locally also.
JOEL: You bring up an important and dramatic point. You and I have been practicing the art of nuclear medicine technology for about 30 years or so, and in those 30 years we've seen some technology retire. We've seen some chemistry retire, and we've seen the birth of a new frontier tied to the Computer Age as well. Do you see in the future any changes in technology that will inspire other people to come into the field?
ART HALL: Oh, yes. I think with the advent of the CT scanner many years ago and now the advent of the PET/CT, there's lots of revolutionary things that are occurring in nuclear medicine. Currently, there is a lot of glamour in PET or PET/CT and this puts the general nuclear medicine on the back burner. Even cardiology was a hot topic for a number of years, but, you know, you go through all these cycles like brain scanning was the mainstay of nuclear medicine for a long time, and then CT scanners came on the market and then wiped out nuclear medicine brain imaging in less than a year just about.
JOEL: In less than a year. Overnight.
ART HALL: And then, all of a sudden, we started making in-roads in cardiology with thallium, and then with the technetium-based agents. That's pretty well established, and we do a lot of studies there, but that could get kind of inched out in the future with contrast enhanced CT and MRI. You’ve got to be very cognizant of that. But I think we have lots of potential with PET and, you know, we're only using essentially, in my opinion, one PET agent in imaging for the majority, and that would be FDG, and we have rubidium which is coming from a reactor contrasted with F-18 from a cyclotron along with several other agents. There’s a lot of chemistry in the PET world that can be used. It's not getting used primarily because the supply and demand is not there yet.
The most striking thing in nuclear medicine that occurred to me was the advent of the nuclear pharmacy which I'm thinking there's no way in the world that nuclear medicine would ever come from a radiopharmacy, a pharmacy that would only sell radionuclides, but then they came. And then the other startling thing is all of a sudden cyclotrons start popping up, and they're supplying only FDG. It's kind of a specialization of the nuclear pharmacy. It's amazing to me because I would have never fathomed that in the early '70s with the generators and the fact that the technologists were gifted with the ability to not only inject radiopharmaceuticals but also to prepare and inject them as well as do the chemical binding on all of that stuff. Now that's kind of an art that's gone to the wayside now—technologists don't do any of that now. The new technologists, they're not even aware of the fact that this was done, and if something is not tagged for them, they struggle.
JOEL: But they've made something to replace that. That's volume business and high-technology exams as well, as you said, with CT/PET, with SPECT imaging for hearts and others as well.
ART HALL: I think that in the future there’s going to be a lot of fusion imaging between PET and MRI and also probably some of the SPECT procedures and MRI because those higher strength magnets are going to play a bigger and bigger part in medicine particularly because of their anatomical capability.
JOEL: Now, all of these types of modalities are not pure nuclear medicine science and are probably going to be the next bone of contention, if it already hasn't made its way to the front, and that involves licensure. What was the Southwestern Chapter's position to address these issues of licensure from a state and a national level?
ART HALL: Well, at the state level it's probably well known in some circles I was pretty much of an anti-licensure person for a number of years, but after it got passed, I was Johnny-on-the-spot to get on the board because if you can't fight them, just join them. I think licensure of some sort exists in about 23 states. Each one of them is similar but somewhat different, and the Society has tried along with the ASRT for probably five years to get a Care Bill and Licensure Bill passed.
There was legislation passed in 1991 called the Randolph Bill which required all the states to set up licensure, and then as a result of that, licensure got passed in many states, but the Care Act would require a national licensure, which, I think, would be a good thing. I think the Southwestern Chapter and its membership are in a good position to influence that, but the politics and legislation of all that stuff involves the chairman of the Committee in the House or Senate. For example, once the bill gets introduced, it goes to a committee, and the chairman of that committee is the only one that has the power to take that bill and put it up before either the House or the Senate. So I disagree with the Society and the ASRT in how they deal with these things now, because they work with a bunch of people to get all these cosponsors. The last thing we need is cosponsors. We need the chairman of the committee to get the bill out to be voted upon by the main body, and then as soon as that thing comes off the table and goes to the floor and they make the announcement it's going to the Congressional Floor—it's going up to the House or Senate to be voted upon, then that's the time to hook up the horses to the wagon because you're going to be running. But the rest of the time it's just kind of lunchtime, I guess. Not a whole lot gets done if it's in the committee and it's sitting on table. Only about five percent or less of those bills ever get off the table once they're tabled.
Most of the technologists that I have talked to are aware of that, and many of them are willing to work on it. I probably personally do and have done a lot of work with legislative stuff. My wife relates the story of getting a piece of legislation changed on Capitol Hill when I went and visited this House of Representatives gentleman from Illinois, and he would not change this bill. I made two visits, I know, probably three to his office, and he refused to change the wording in this legislation to provide the money for education in the radiological sciences. So we got smart and on one occasion he was having this nice little ice cream social one evening to raise money for his reelection. My wife and I decided to attend the social. We paid our money and went in and got our scoop of ice cream, and I had my final word with him, and he changed the bill. It kind of tainted her opinion of the government after that.
JOEL: Did she enjoy her ice cream?
ART HALL: Oh, yeah. But it tainted her opinion of politics.
As a result of all the legislative work (and certainly I owe Southwestern Chapter and Marcia Boyd a great deal of credit for getting me involved in a lot of stuff), I was on a lot of committees, worked on a lot of things. I currently sit on the board for the National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education and originally that evolved from an education laboratory from the U.S. Department of Education, and they received a grant of 10 million dollars to develop National Health Care Skills Standards.
The Society was very active in getting their two cents in on that National Health Care Skills Standards of which I really feel bad about now because we've essentially abandoned them, even though the National Health Care Skills Standards are still very much alive and very heavily utilized by HOSA. This is the first year the SNM-TS is working with HOSA to help technologists at HOSA meetings to present information on nuclear medicine as a health career. I've worked on curriculum with the National Consortium over the years to put in the high schools that pretty much talk about nuclear medicine or some aspects of radiology, and I think it's very important to stay involved on that front. In addition, I have worked with the Health Professional Network which is a loose-knit group of national healthcare organizations. They still meet to correlate items of mutual interest. Primarily it's funding for education on a national level, and that includes the laboratory people, respiratory care people, and speech pathology, just all those different groups that don't have any kind of organized lobbyist in government to make sure they get funding. For example, I believe it is Title 8 legislation that primarily deals with nurses and the funding that they get.
Many of the past presidents in the Tech Section from the Southwestern Chapter were involved and spoke on the Hill. Brad Pounds, Terri Boyce, a lot of those people went up and gave testimony and worked on the national health care issues.
Oh yes another memorial event we had—I was president-elect, and I think we had a meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, so I was passing out little rocks at the National Council meeting and on the national level for that meeting. Brad Pounds, Dave Campbell, and I—we all dressed up in tuxedos and went to that meeting. We had a great time.
JOEL: Grabbed some attention.
ART HALL: Oh, yeah, a show of camaraderie gets all the people focused. And, you know, a lot of those things led to some very successful jobs for those who participated because you get to meet a lot of different people in these companies.
Earlier you mentioned asking me about memorable people. And I’m thinking that probably the most memorable person within the Southwestern Chapter was Walter Durham—Mr. Nuclear Medicine, as I called him—because Walter was always, as I called it, possessed with the fact that if he put on a seminar, no one would come to the meeting.
JOEL: Walter was afraid that if he ever put a meeting on in Galveston, that it was going to go belly up, but he was there when it actually went off in Galveston (2000)—
ART HALL: Walter launched a lot of stuff from there, but he was great. I liked the man because he had a lot of drive, and he would work hard on these meetings. His apprehension, I think, was all just kind of show more than fear. He would always call me up several months before any meeting he was going to have and he'd say, “Do you think anybody will come? Do you think this will fall apart?” After about three years of this, I said, “Walter, you have regular attendance every year. What do you think?” He was a great nuclear medicine technologist, and he was a man loved by his students dearly, and he and Bobby Brown were very good about putting nuclear medicine on the map, particularly in the Galveston area.
The other influential person in the Chapter was Shirley Ledbetter. I really admire Shirley a lot because I consider her the premier educator. Her students love her, and she knows her stuff, and she's very active about getting things done, so I always respected her and held her in high esteem. She's a very good friend. If you needed something done, you could pick up the phone and call Shirley and things would get taken care of.
JOEL: Shirley was another one that ran for National Council after you did and held the office for many years, and as you said, she's one who you can go to with a job and she will not only do the job, she will make it sparkle.
ART HALL: She knows people that can make things happen, so she was very influential.
JOEL: This year (2004) will mark the sixth anniversary of the fall symposium of the Southwestern Chapter Technologists Section, and it will be held in Dallas. What is your opinion about this fall meeting, and how does the word spread to other chapters.
ART HALL: Many meetings that are outside of, say, the regular chapter meetings kind of wane here and there, and it depends upon the leaders in the different areas. Essentially, it's leadership driven, and if the leadership is willing to make a commitment to get the speakers and all, the people will come to the meetings. It's just a matter of getting that taken care of.
Now other chapters do that. The Central Chapter does that. The Missouri Valley does that; the Southeast Chapter. Some of them may have been doing it before the Southwestern Chapter was doing it, which I'm quite sure California was doing that. But it's just a matter of leadership. It is leadership driven, and if something is successful, it is going to have some person in that group that's behind it that you know, and they're going to be the ones directing it, such as the meeting in Galveston that Walter produced. You know, I called it the Walter Durham meeting, and there's the California meetings which were the Mickey Williams meeting. These guys were the “Mr. Nuclear Medicine” of their areas, and they had good attendance to those meetings because they were recognized for their ability to get quality people to come and give a presentation. It was really relevant to what the technologists had to deal with in the workplace, which is what you're really interested in. What's happening in the workplace? What issues can we deal with? Putting a meeting together involves answering these questions.
JOEL: There seems to be a little more liberty too in the local meetings because it's technologists only—no vendor booths, no scientific symposium agenda. It gives technologists a chance to vent their feelings to the Southwestern Chapter officers and give them some direction. I think that's the purest part of the whole deal. Yes, you can get quality education out of it, but it also gives you the eyes and ears of your leaders like you'd never get at the national level or at the Spring meeting, if you were to go to one of those.
ART HALL: Definitely. One of the interesting things recently was at the Southeast Chapter meeting. When I was there, they were having roundtable discussions on Sunday morning, which I was invited to attend because my hot topic for this year is the Scope of Practice. It's been the hot topic for several years for me. I spoke on the scope of practice for about ten minutes. Then they spoke on education and then all those different topics, and it was very interesting because there were probably 60 people in the audience, and nearly all of them participated in the discussion. Because it's a—in a sense—I hate to say it, it's a socioeconomic issue. And it very much affects everyone's lives, so you've got to discuss this. It's not technical. You don't get a buzz out of the imaging end of the thing. But it's relevant stuff. So I think that we'll probably bring in some of that too eventually because we are going to have to. You have to deal with licensure. You have to deal with reimbursement. You've got to deal with programs, and as I was relating to you earlier, I'm not quite sure about the road of the JRCNMT and JRCRT now as far as educational programs since they're now only allowing technologists' programs to exist outside of these review boards.
If, all of a sudden, you have different standards coming from different schools, then you saturate the market with people who have different training coming from different schools. And if the six accrediting bodies for universities and colleges in the United States are accrediting nuclear medicine programs that don't meet the Joint Review Committee's standards, then we have a problem. We're going to have to band together and resolve it, but if we decide not to do that, then the problem will grow, and it will affect the people entering now or that are just in the beginning part of their career. It will affect their life substantially down the line. So either get involved or enjoy what's going to happen to you, because you could be kind of ruled over, so to speak. It's just like you and me being on the MRT board—at least we had eyes and ears on the board. We may not have liked everything that happened, but it was a lot better that we were there. The other option is probably even worse.
So it's very interesting, and I think one of those things about being in the Southwestern Chapter is that you've got people that are very influential within the Society and within nuclear medicine, and it helps us all, but you've got to use them. But don't abuse them.
JOEL: You've mentioned some very powerful names of physicians who have been pioneers in the studies and some very strong technologists who have been influential in the instrumental and technological phases all from the Southwestern Chapter. It's not a shabby place to say you're from.
ART HALL: There are some very important people that have come out of the Southwestern Chapter. Dr. Terence Bevens from Baton Rouge—he’s very influential in a lot of things, and we've got Dr. Harris from Arkansas. I'd have to get the list out. There's so many of them on that list, and they all are very influential. Dr. Allen was one of them. You know, there's just lots of people that have worked for the Chapter and worked for the technologists and have been very supportive of all the things that go on, very, very important. And it’s very important to have a historical perspective of it.
JOEL: Well, this is my final question to you: If this was a time capsule and this message that was going to be picked up in the next century, what message would you have for the physicians and technologists that comprise the Southwestern Chapter?
ART HALL: Get involved. For physicians, they're going to have to work with other organizations because when I was president of the Tech Section, probably 75 to 80 percent of the procedures were read by radiologists, but there's not a lot of work with radiologists regarding education. Nuclear medicine is spreading out so much—to a larger degree from a physicians' standpoint, which makes it a lot more difficult for a technologist because we have oncologists who do nuclear medicine, and there are endocrinologists who do nuclear medicine. They're only interested in that part. We have neurologists that do brains and some of the other specialized procedures that are just doing that in the nuclear medicine realm, and they have licenses to do that. And we have training groups all across the nation making sure that these people get their training and can get their radioactive materials license to do those specialized procedures.
From a technology standpoint, we have to be pretty pliable to work with all those groups, and, you know, from a nuclear medicine physician standpoint, you've got to figure out how you're going to get those people into our organization and be willing to become part of it and organize presentations and get them involved in it. If you don't do that, it's a lost cause, and you can see some of that evolving.
When Dr. Dick Holmes was the president of the SNM physicians and I was the Tech Section president in the Society, I always told him that some day he would be eating the dust from the Technology Section because we were going to have more membership than the physicians, and we passed that goal, I think, already on a national level, and it demonstrates our importance. We're the ones that are right on the front edge there, and these physicians—you've just got to work with all these different groups of physicians and you be the one dictating education instead of having those people in their allotted profession doing that. So you've got to be the one that's out there. You've got the experience as a physician. Teach, preach, bring these guys in. You be the leader for the education part of it, and the rest of it will fall in place pretty quickly. And the technologists, we are amenable. We can adjust to any kind of situation we have to.
One of the things that we can probably do in that scenario is to make sure that we're presenting along with the physicians, and a lot of the chapters have gone to that as—as we have. You have the technologist part of the presentation, and the physician part of the presentation. That's the way the Southeast Chapter does it. But you've got to treat the technologists well, because without the technologists, the job doesn't get done. Without the physicians, the things don't get read, so everybody's got a little part in it, and we all have to work together and understand that one doesn't stand alone. It's a triangle. Physicists, scientists, physicians, technologists, all of them are very important in each role, and you've got to support each other to keep it going.
JOEL: Like a three-legged stool.
ART HALL: That's right. There's influential physicians all over, and when I look back and think about it on a national level, what some of the physicians that really impressed me did was support the technologists. Bill Kaplan from Dana-Farber was one of the guys that I looked up to because he was just a gung ho supporter of technologists, and he got involved in a lot of things that had to do with the technologist and with nuclear medicine technology. He was on the Summit on Radiologic Sciences and Sonography, which I was the chair of for three years. We dealt with recruiting, and it was all of the ionizing radiation groups and sonography that were working on this problem of job retention and recruitment, and Bill Kaplan was right in there hammering away as the representative from the Society. He didn't just come to the meetings. He participated actively in those meetings. He wanted to make sure that there was going to be enough people there to work. It was important to him to have technologists—skilled technologists working with him, not just to have some body there. So he was very influential, and I really admired that man for that. Unfortunately he passed away several years ago, but he was a great guy.
Stanley Hodges in Dallas when I first got started in nuclear medicine was a man that I admired a lot. He was a salesman to the Nth degree, but he was a nuclear medicine salesman, and he made a difference in the nuclear medicine community. He did that. Dr. Steinbach who's head of radiology at Baylor Hospital in Dallas now, he was very pro nuclear medicine back in the early days. Dr. Bob Parkey would get right down and work right with the technologists on things, so if we went to a meeting or something like that, he was right out with the technologists going around.
We were doing something, and one night I think he bought all of us rides at Disneyland in California, a whole bunch of us from the Southwestern Chapter, and, boy, he says, “Let's all go.” So he took us all on rides, and we had a great time. He not only worked with you during the workday, but he played with you during the play day, so he made a big impression on me. I mean, here's some guy that's willing to spend his time with people he's working with there, and he was very different.
JOEL: Well, I know that doctors and nurses work well together that way, and they respect each other's professions, and they know their limitations, that without each other, they are pretty fruitless, so it's the same way with nuclear medicine technology as well.
ART HALL: Definitely. As for regrets, I was looking for regrets. The biggest regret that I have as a member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine is the fact that I was never able to successfully pull off the merging of the ARRT and the NMTCB. We had a golden opportunity in '88 to do that, we had the trump cards, and we pulled the rug out from under our own feet. But we could have merged with the ARRT. At that point we would have been close to having ARRT take the NMTCB and then be the administrative arm only, and then the CNMTs would have one registry. It would be Certified Nuclear Medicine Technologists, and that that would be managed by the ARRT. Instead, now we have the ARRT administering a test for nuclear medicine and the NMTCB administering a test. Because stronger-willed people prevailed, that merger didn't occur, and it really has been a major disappointment for me over the years, but I just never could get that pulled off. I think it would have been just phenomenal if that had occurred. Then we'd be down to one single registry which would make it nice for licensure. We would be in a community of 300,000 people that were in a sense registered in the United States instead of 16 to 17,000; and I can assure you in the government, numbers count.
That's the reason the Summit on Radiologic Sciences was so successful because it had in its membership the ARRT, the ASRT, the Sonographers, the radiation therapists, the nuclear medicine technologists—just a wide variety of people which made a really big number, and most of the companies were supportive and we received over three million dollars in the course of a year to handle for dealing with the shortage of technologists, radiologists, and sonographers. We spent that money putting out ads. We even had videos. I’ve been involved in a lot of stuff with advertising, so to speak, videos, different things over the years. You have to give the message and give it in a short period of time, but you've got to publish in a newspaper and get important people involved. The news is not getting there unless you've got somebody to deliver it.
And it's the same in just about anything. You can have the smartest people in the world, but if you don't have anything to apply the intelligence to, then it's not going to get anywhere, and my advice to the Chapter is—if you're a member of the Chapter, get involved. If you at first don't succeed, keep trying. Eventually they'll get tired of you and put you in the job, and who knows? You may change the course of the chapter and nuclear medicine.
JOEL: And getting involved is fun. It's not just work.
ART HALL: No. I've enjoyed it. I mean, nuclear medicine has been a great career for me. I tell people that are interested in it, when I go talk to students, and some of them are going to stay in it, some of them will get out of it, and some of them will go into the industry from it, but any way you look at it, you can make a decent living and that's the important thing.