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 Patricia Balthazar, MD.
Engaging the Student
We’ve all been there: sitting in the reading room as a medical student with no patients to round on and no progress notes to write. Just sitting behind the radiologist, observing them at their finest. Fast forward several years, and the tables have turned: we’re now the radiologist with students sitting behind us. Recently I’ve been thinking about my experiences as a student and wondering, what are some ways in which I can help teach meaningfully as a resident? Bottom line: it makes sense to me that it’s key to teach something in such a way that a student can take that knowledge outside of the reading room. I must admit that actually executing this approach proved to be difficult. However, after several rotations with positive feedback from multiple students, I came up with some methods of engaging students that I would love to share with my fellow #RadRes.
The first part of engaging a student is getting to know them. Get to know what year of training they’re in and what field of medicine they’re interested in. This helps to provide you with a better sense of what level of training they have and what topics might spark their interest. Sometimes we get so hyped with wanting to teach intricate details, that we lose the bigger picture. Just remember your audience – they are students, so stick to the basics. I promise you’ll even get brownie points from them if you try to make your discussions relevant to the specialty they are interested in pursuing. Students will appreciate you keeping these basic facts about them on your mind while teaching, and it will further foster their interest in learning radiology.
Repetition is the next key. Engage the student by periodically asking questions on anatomy or key concepts throughout the rotation. After discussing a case, you can also ask the student to look up information about that topic or a related topic for discussion the following day to help build on their current understanding. These techniques of reinforcement throughout their rotation will help make the learning experience more rewarding.
Next, letting the student play the role of a radiologist can be a valuable approach to a more interactive style of teaching. If they can present patients in a medicine or surgery rotation, then why can’t they read a chest radiograph in their radiology rotation? Of course they cannot technically dictate the study, but you can simply put up the study and ask them, “Tell me what you see.” You can even give them the mouse to search for the finding if it’s a cross-sectional study. This verbal exercise will stimulate the students’ minds and help them apply their current level of understanding in a meaningful way.
Lastly, let students ask you questions. Questions might potentially put you on the spot, it’s true, but it’s a great learning opportunity for both the students and you as the resident, too. Not only will it help fill in gaps in your own knowledge, but it will allow the students’ interests to blossom and help them feel more involved.
These are some techniques I have adopted when I have medical students rotating with me and it seems like they enjoy the interaction and appreciate the challenge. Just remember that we are not only residents, but also teachers. So take the time to teach meaningfully and engage students by fostering a learning environment that can be beneficial in the long run. Because at the end of the day, you haven’t truly mastered a concept unless you are able to teach it, right?
Kirang Patel, MD, is a resident at University of Missouri at Kansas City. Reach them on Twitter at @koolkpMD.