RFS news highlights resources, issues, and news relevant to in-training members of the ACR. If you have a topic idea or would like to contribute to the blog, please email RFS Secretary Nathan Coleman, MD.
The Ins and Outs of Academic Radiology
The Introduction to Academic Radiology (ITAR) program is a four-day, in-person course sponsored by RSNA, the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), and the Association of University Radiologists, held annually at the RSNA and ARRS conferences. The program aims to facilitate attendees’ transitions into academic radiology careers, providing insight into how to produce valuable research, enter productive mentor-mentee relationships, navigate an academic career, and understand radiologists’ involvement in health policy. This year, I was fortunate enough to be accepted as an attendee of ITAR.
The application process as a radiology resident is straightforward. Each radiology residency program director is permitted to nominate a second-year resident (PGY-3) to apply. The application process includes discussing your previous and current research, goals and aspirations in an academic career, and why, as an applicant, you believe ITAR will help you achieve those goals. Ultimately, approximately 80–100 attendees from around the world are selected when combined with the ITARSc (ITAR for scientists), bringing in extraordinary academic and cultural diversity to enrich the program experience.
Members attend the selected conference (RSNA or ARRS) and participate in several types of activities — lectures, interactive sessions, and networking opportunities — to understand and develop skills that create the foundation of an academic radiologist. Lectures span a broad range of topics, including how to develop research questions; how to select, interact efficiently with, and gain lifelong benefit from a mentor; how to gain grant funding; how to present and write manuscripts; having an appropriate work-life balance; and more. The lecturers comprise extremely accomplished and high-profile physicians and scientists giving their personal insights into what it means to be, and how to become, an academic radiologist.
My greatest takeaways from the program included step-by-step — literally sentence by sentence — guides on writing a manuscript from Ruth C. Carlos, MD, MS, FACR, the JACR editor-in-chief, how to advance in academic radiology through a teaching pathway, and how to most efficiently interact with a mentor. But I gained much more than just information from lectures — I had the opportunity to network with inspiring residents and scientists from around the world, many of whom I expect to interact with professionally in the future.
For anyone considering academic radiology I suggest looking into the ITAR program. It taught me many absolutely crucial skills that I am confident I’ll use the rest of my life, both in and out of academic radiology.
Ryan Adams, MD, is radiology resident at Vanderbilt University.