SOM Offers New Model for Improved Radiology Training

Many medical students do not receive formal education in radiology — the science of using medical imaging to diagnose diseases within the body. Among those who do, many choose to study it while away from campus during the fall of their fourth year to accomplish their residency interviews.

To address this problem, researchers in the School of Medicine evaluated a largely web-based course in radiology during the fourth year of medical school at UCR. The course offered online videos, online modules, online textbook assignments, and live interactive online lectures.

The researchers found the majority of students accepted this approach.

“Students need to be away from the radiology reading rooms during interview or travel months, yet they also wish to learn to efficiently and safely order imaging tests, review basic digital images, and use basic ultrasound equipment,” said Dr. Andrew Alexander, an associate clinical professor of family medicine, who led the research study that appears in JMIR Medical Education, a new peer-reviewed journal focusing on technology, innovation, and openness in medical education. “Our internet-based approach could be adapted by a number of medical colleges. Students can then be away from campus for the fourth-year residency interviews and watch online videos from their hotel rooms, or while on a plane.”

Alexander explained that undergraduate medical education in radiology has traditionally occurred in a small, closed, dark room as a student sits beside a radiologist who talks into a dictation device. 

“Such ‘reading sessions’ slow the learning process,” he said. “On the other hand, the novel, independent, and largely online medical school imaging curriculum our medical school offers enhances the capacity for lifelong learning in an environment of constant change.”

Alexander was joined in the study by Dr. Deborah Deas, the medical school’s Mark and Pam Rubin Dean and chief executive officer for clinical affairs; and Dr. Paul E. Lyons, chair of the Department of Family Medicine.

Iqbal Pittalwala

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