Top of the Class

The ACR Education Center is changing the learning paradigm for radiology.

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James R. Costello, MD, PhD, an ACR Education Center faculty member, discusses course material with Harpreet K. Judge, MD, during the Body and Pelvic MR class in Reston, Va.

In 2006, former ACR CEO Harvey L. Neiman, MD, FACR, and past ACR BOC Chairs James H. Thrall, MD, FACR, and Arl Van Moore Jr., MD, FACR, gathered at a leadership retreat in Asheville, N.C., and mapped out a plan to offer radiologists hands-on instruction in a realistic simulation environment. World-class radiologists in various subspecialties would train physicians in advanced medical imaging and image-guidance techniques, combining faculty lectures and one-on-one interaction with intensive self-paced case review.

This idea became what is now the ACR Education Center, which opened its doors in March 2008. Since then, nearly 12,000 physicians from 40 countries and every state in the United States have completed training at ACR’s headquarters in Reston, Va. To mark the 10th anniversary, the Bulletin asked faculty how radiologists learn best — and why the Education Center is the place for radiologists to meet their learning needs.

The ACR Education Center replicates the practice environment for optimal learning.

For the Education Center, the days of PowerPoints and static images are a thing of the past. Rather than use lectures with slides, faculty provide case-based, real-world learning. “When the Education Center was established, the faculty recognized that case-based learning was more effective for radiologists than long lectures,” says Wendy B. DeMartini, MD, professor and chief of breast imaging at Stanford University School of Medicine. “Interesting cases hold attendees’ attention and simulate their actual day-to-day work, which helps them be more engaged.”

At the Education Center, attendees review a large number of specially selected cases at workstations, allowing them to approach the cases as they would in their actual practices. Being at workstations and engaging with the cases allows radiologists to practice active learning (where students are encouraged to think and engage with the content rather than just absorbing what they’ve heard), says Joe Y. Hsu, MD, director of cardiac CT and MR at Los Angeles Medical Center and course director at the Education Center. Because these cases simulate the real world, when attendees go back to their practices, they can approach their work as they would at the Education Center. “Every case attendees interpret at home then reinforces the teaching points mastered at the course,” adds Michael N. Linver, MD, FACR, who has taught over 2,000 Education Center attendees.

Faculty provide immediate feedback.

In addition to attendees tackling cases at workstations, the Education Center instructors provide didactic lectures as well as review cases with the full group of attendees and with individuals at their workstations. This set up not only caters to different learning styles, but also allows faculty to focus on the individual needs and questions of each attendee, says DeMartini. Adds Jeffrey P. Kanne, professor of radiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and ACR Educator of the Year, “Reviewing cases and providing feedback is essential for our attendees. Because we’re able to give individual attention, I’ve seen quiet students open up over the course of the lecture and start asking questions they might never have asked in a larger, conference-based setting.”

The format can also set students up for success at work by encouraging a collaborative model of sharing information. “Once they’re back at work, it’s up to them to continue engaging with the material so they are comfortable with it,” says Hsu. According to Kanne, one way to do that is to start discussing cases with your colleagues and to follow up on cases with ordering physicians. That way, he says, you’re still receiving the same educational feedback.

The lecture material and cases expose attendees to new and up-to-date information.

The Education Center and its faculty make sure they’re providing the most up-to-date modalities andtechnologies. “Each course provides attendees with concise reviews of the most recent scientific evidence about technologies and their applications, meaning our attendees stay up to date on the latest research,” says DeMartini. “Often, this might mean we’re exposing our attendees to things they didn’t encounter during their residency or fellowship,” says Hsu. And although that might seem like a lot of information to cover in just a few short days, faculty help make the information digestible, mixing case interpretation with lectures and feedback sessions, says Linver. “Tackling a variety of different things helps cater to different learning styles, makes things less monotonous, and helps students retain information better,” adds Kanne.

It’s a chance to spend time with radiologists from a variety of regions and practice types.

When asked what their favorite thing about the ACR Education Center, each faculty member said the same thing: the people. Hsu says, “We have such a wide spectrum of attendees, from all sorts of backgrounds, ages, training levels, and work requirements. I love being able to learn about the work other radiologists are doing and what they’re interested in.”
“Our interactive environment really allows me to get to know our attendees who come from across the country and around the world,” says DeMartini. “The attendees learn from the faculty, but we also get to learn from them as we discuss patient care and practice.”

By Meghan Edwards, freelance writer, ACR Press

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