A Closer Look at CPI

Subspecialty authorities contribute their expertise to one of the college's most popular educational programs.a closer look at CPI

For more than a decade, experts throughout the specialty have donated their time and expertise to ACR's Continuous Professional Improvement (CPI) program.

While CPI helps radiologists keep up with maintenance of certification requirements, its broader aim is to foster excellence in radiology. That goal was realized for CPI contributors recently, when the program received a member's feedback showing them the true value of their efforts.

A member contacted ACR staff to tell them about a complex pediatric case he had just diagnosed. The day before, he had finished a CPI module and spent time reviewing a particular question he had missed. The next day, he read the scan of a patient with the same condition as was imaged in the test case and was able to make the correct diagnosis. He stated that what he learned through CPI's self-directed educational process likely saved his patient's life.

Built-in Excellence

The CPI program was created to address the ABR's ever-increasing maintenance of certification requirements. In addition to the topics covered by the board exams, in recent years CPI began releasing special editions of the modules. The first of these was Body MRI, chaired by Diego R. Martin, MD, PhD, FRCPC, aimed at addressing the emergent need for more quality education in this area. In 2013, Marc A. Seltzer, MD, is chairing a special edition on PET/CT, and Douglas S. Katz, MD, FACR, is chairing an emergency imaging special edition.

From start to finish, each new CPI module takes about 18 months to develop. The process demands serious time commitments from panels of CPI faculty members; CPI Program Chair Harris L. Cohen, MD, FACR; expert subspecialty reviewers, and ACR staff. "The entire CPI system is dependent upon a series of excellent writers and editors who lead the project within their subspecialty," says Cohen, who also serves as chair of radiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and medical director of radiology at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, both in Memphis, Tenn.

Modules are developed based on ABR requirements, member feedback, and committee input. Once a topic has been chosen, a panel of subject-matter experts creates a first draft. The members of the panel select cases and associated images for the module from their own casework, targeting the most current and relevant aspects of the topic. The panel chair then submits the draft module to the program chair and the subject-matter reviewer. After several rounds of review and responses, the outcome is a unique educational tool offering up to eight AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and two SAMs.

With high-quality information at its center, the curriculum is designed to help participants retain medical knowledge and develop a genuine understanding of the subject. "I look at the creation of these products from the perspective of a learner," says Cohen. "In some cases I'm a learner with a lot of background in the area, and in some cases, I have less thorough knowledge." Likewise, each question includes clear discussion that is applicable to users of varying experience levels, from a radiology resident to a veteran radiologist to a subspecialists in the area.

The program also aims to help users get the most out of each image included in the module. "The combination of high-quality images and great discussions can underline what readers already know or it can introduce them to new techniques and state-of-the-art methodology," says Cohen. For the 50 percent of questions that include an image, an annotated version of the image appears in the answer section, with arrows and text explaining the findings. Cohen's rationale for this detail is simple and goes back to his perspective as a user of the products he and the CPI team create: "If I see an image and related discussion but I don't know what detail to focus on, I'm not going to learn anything," he says. "Every image should have the findings clearly pointed out."

“The entire CPI system is dependent upon on a series of excellent writers and editors who lead the project within their subspecialty.” — Harris L. Cohen, MD, FACR

Responding to Evolving Needs

While the content is being continually refreshed, the CPI team also places value on staying current with the technology members use in their daily practice and when completing their CME. Modules are available in both electronic and print versions, and Cohen also hopes to add greater interactivity as modules progress in the future. Read more in the side bar about CPI's latest offering: CPI Splice.

CPI SpliceAs the program grows, CPI continues to offer radiologists a valuable resource for staying up to date with developments in various areas of the specialty. Members turn to CPI for the latest information related to modalities, diagnoses, and management of diseases. So a general diagnostician who goes through six CPI modules per year will receive the most current, clinically relevant information on findings and diagnoses in the areas typically covered by the ABR board exams and other unique areas of imaging that may cross over various aspects of imaging. Meanwhile, subspecialists who need to fulfill specific requirements can pick and choose from CPI's broad offerings. And just as CME credit is not the end goal of the CPI program, participants also point to meaningful gains outside of maintenance of certification: more than 97 percent of participants rate CPI as "relevant in improving patient care."

By Lyndsee Cordes

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