What Makes the ACR Tick?
Ramesh S. Iyer, MD, tells the Bulletin about his experience as a Valerie P. Jackson Education Fellow.
During the fall of 2013, Ramesh S. Iyer, MD, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Washington and staff radiologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, visited the ACR Education Department in Reston, Va., as the Valerie P. Jackson (VPJ) Education Fellow.
The fellowship provides the opportunity for a radiology or radiation oncology resident, fellow, community or academic radiologist, radiation oncologist, medical physicist, or for an educator with a specific interest in the field to gain direct exposure to the operations of ACR’s Education Department. Fellows gain experience with development processes for a wide range of lifelong learning activities for residents and practitioners, including various aspects of compliance with ACCME accreditation criteria. As part of the fellowship, fellows are required to complete a project or activity pertaining to the delivery of educational materials and lifelong learning in radiology. The Bulletin asked Iyer about his experience.
Q: Why did you apply for the Valerie P. Jackson Fellowship?
A: I saw it as a natural extension of my current work regarding educational administration at the university departmental level, and I wanted the opportunity to see how this is achieved at the national level. In my current practice I’m an academic pediatric radiologist. So an integral part of what I do is providing education to residents, fellows, medical students, and other clinical staff that are rotating through our department. This fellowship has provided a wonderful opportunity to see how useful educational materials are produced on the organizational and national levels.
Q: Was the fellowship what you expected?
A: It exceeded all of my expectations. I offered a lot less to the ACR than what I took home. I really feel like I’ve been a student in coming to the ACR and talking to the staff and learning about how they perform their jobs to the best of their ability.
Q: How did the fellowship change your perspective on radiology education?
A: Prior to the fellowship, I was definitely focused on educational content. As a pediatric radiologist, I tend to focus on how I can educate trainees and students about pediatric radiology. Specifically, I show them illustrative teaching cases, share educational articles, or direct them to the appropriate textbook references for greater understanding of pathophysiology. But this approach underestimates the importance of delivery. By delivery I mean the way the material is conveyed to learners in order to best engage them. In certain cases, delivery is at least as important as content in order to reach the learner, engage them, and foster information retention. For example, incorporating self-assessment questions into a standard slide presentation allows learners to test their skills in a different, practical way beyond the pure didactic presentation or lecture.
The primary focus of a lot of the administrative staff at the ACR is to make sure that the method of delivery keeps learners engaged and conveys knowledge and skills that they can use in their practice. It’s not an intuitive process, so learning that from people who are trained in education has been incredibly valuable.
Q: What were the highlights of your visit?
A: The biggest highlight of my visit was the opportunity to meet with the ACR staff for extended periods of time. Much of my fellowship was comprised of meetings scheduled with various staff members within the different divisions of the Education Department. These meetings allowed me to ask questions and allowed the staff to ask me questions to learn what we can do to help each other. I think that interchange was invaluable. My fellowship coincided with a meeting of the ACR Commission on Education, which was fortunate timing because I was allowed to sit in on and participate in the discussions.
Q: How will you apply the knowledge you gained during the fellowship?
A: With the knowledge I gained during the VPJ Fellowship, I’d like to build a CME activity on a topic related to either quality assurance or something more subspecialtyspecific, like a pediatric module. Also, as a result of the fellowship, I am more skilled at honing and evaluating activities for CME. I sit on the CME and SAM Compliance Subcommittee, and I feel I now have greater perspective and experience with which to evaluate proposals.
Q: Would you recommend the VPJ Fellowship to others?
A: I think the VPJ Fellowship offers a unique window into the ACR Education Department, which most users will never have the opportunity to view. Prior to my fellowship, my only exposure to the ACR was through the JACR® and the ACR website. That was great, but it didn’t offer me the same detailed, comprehensive, multifaceted experience that the fellowship provided. I certainly never had the personal interactions that I had in speaking with ACR members and staff and understanding what makes them tick. I was impressed to see the effort required from the administrative staff and from radiologists around the country to ensure the high quality of educational material we have come to expect from the ACR.