Physics and Radioisotope Safety Content To Be Reduced on DR Qualifying (Core) Exam
By Desiree E. Morgan, MD, ABR Governor, and Mary S. Newell, MD, ABR Associate Executive Director for Diagnostic Radiology
As part of continual efforts to improve exams for our candidates and diplomates, exam content is evaluated at numerous times and on several fronts during exam development.
Volunteers on item-writing committees review questions as they are created, when they are selected for a given exam, and again at annual test assembly meetings. As subject matter experts in the subspecialty areas, trustees in diagnostic radiology review individual items and look at big-picture balancing of exam content across the discipline. Considerable thought is given to content relevance as the dynamic practice of diagnostic radiology changes. Many volunteers are involved in radiology education and receive feedback from program directors and colleagues in their academic departments. Volunteers in private practice, including those on item-writing or Angoff committees as well as trustees, provide invaluable information on the relevance of exam content to practice. Members of the ABR Initial Certification Advisory Committee help inform the need for adjustments in content as clinical practice changes. And finally, candidates provide feedback shortly after each exam administration.
As a result of these considerations, the ABR announced in December that the amount of diagnostic radiology physics and radioisotope safety questions would be reduced on future DR Qualifying (Core) Exams, from 25% to 20% of total exam content. The total number of questions on the exam will decrease from 657 to 615. Candidates will not need to prepare differently for the exam due to these changes, as the content in both areas will continue to focus on relevant basic and applied physics and radioisotope safety knowledge necessary for optimal clinical practice and safety issues around diagnostic testing. The reduction in content does not imply a lack of importance of these subjects but is rather a rebalancing of content volume to better reflect the current training and practice environment.
The Qualifying (Core) Exam will continue to be offered to DR and integrated interventional radiology residents after 36 months of residency training and, as before, candidates must pass overall and in physics to receive a passing result.