Focus on IR/DR

Focus on IR/DR

Tiptoeing Back to Normal?

by James B. Spies, MD, MPH, ABR Associate Executive Director for Interventional Radiology


James Spies, MD

In the past two years, we all have struggled with the pandemic and the breadth of its impact on all aspects of our lives. Nearly everything we do in daily life has been upended, and radical changes have been required in how we manage our responsibilities.

At the ABR, we have completely transformed our computer-based and oral exams to the remote format. While we initially were concerned with several aspects of that necessary change, we have come to see the benefits for our candidates. Because an exam can be done remotely, there is a substantial savings in both time and money for the candidates. A range of controls has ensured a high level of security. Although technical challenges affect a small proportion of candidates during exams, for the vast majority, the change has been positive. We believe we can provide a secure, accessible platform and do not have plans to switch back to in-person exams.

On the other hand, there are ABR activities that do not adopt as well to Zoom or Webex. Our exam development volunteers have missed the synergy of working together in the same room when developing and refining exam items. Webex meetings have allowed us to get by, but the productivity of the committees and the quality of their product are enhanced when they can work directly together.

As most specialty society and CME meetings went virtual in the past two years, our interactions with candidates and diplomates have also suffered. The ABR actively seeks engagement with the radiology community, and this has not been as easy. We do have formal advisory committees for Initial Certification and Continuing Certification (MOC) in IR and have hosted virtual town halls on various subjects, but Webex committee meetings are a limited format for the free exchange of ideas.

Pre-pandemic, the ABR attended specialty society meetings for the primary purpose of interacting with our community of candidates and diplomates and that has been severely limited. The RSNA meeting this past November was in-person for many, and it was good to have a glimpse of life getting back to normal. While nothing is yet certain, most medical societies are now moving back toward in-person meetings. SIR plans on a full in-person meeting in Boston in June and other meetings are planning the same. For me and others at the ABR, that is great news. We look forward to seeing and talking with you all. Finally, we hope, we are tiptoeing back to normal.

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