2020 Vision: A Great Time to Introduce OLA Practice Profile Area

2020 Vision: A Great Time to Introduce OLA Practice Profile Area

By Sanjeev Bhalla, MD


Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) was launched in 2019 for diplomates with certification in diagnostic radiology and DR subspecialties to replace the periodic high-stakes examination as part of Maintenance of Certification (MOC). As the cardiopulmonary trustee, I am thrilled to be part of the development of a less stressful, quick process that is reflective of my walking-around knowledge. Once the project began, I was surprised how relatively enjoyable the OLA questions were. I started hearing from many of my colleagues that they also did not mind answering OLA questions. Some even told me they looked forward to it!


This enthusiasm wasn’t universally shared. When I started my career at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in 2000, I was hired to be 50 percent in the emergency department. In fact, my first national talk was on emergency chest imaging. Over the past few years, my colleagues in emergency radiology have conveyed that they didn’t feel like they fit in with the traditional practice profiles available for Part 3. Their experience with OLA did nothing to allay those feelings.


Discussions with members of the American Society of Emergency Radiology, diplomates practicing in emergency settings, and members of the American Board of Radiology Board have helped to clarify what constitutes walking-around knowledge for an emergency radiologist. Based on these discussions and the work of the ABR staff, it became apparent that 2020, which had already been slated for the introduction of OLA in interventional radiology, radiation oncology, and medical physics, would be a great time to launch emergency radiology as an available practice profile area for diplomates certified in diagnostic radiology.


To help in the item-writing process, we have established an emergency radiology OLA volunteer committee, chaired by Dr. Scott Steenburg at Indiana University, that includes academic emergency radiologists as well as private practice radiologists with an interest in emergency radiology. Diplomates selecting emergency radiology as part of their practice profile will find these questions to be built around the walking-around knowledge of a radiologist who primarily images on call and in the emergency department. We welcome diplomates to try this new offering and use the feedback option to let us know how we are doing.


I am reminded of an old African proverb: If you want to go fast, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk together. By introducing the emergency radiology as an available practice profile, we hope to build on the early success of OLA and allow us to go far in supporting our diplomates for the benefit of patients.


Sanjeev Bhalla, MD, is the section Chief of Cardiothoracic Imaging at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR) at Washington University in St. Louis. He finished his residency at MIR in 1999 and his fellowship in cardiothoracic imaging in 2000 and has been on staff since. He started as an ABR volunteer as an oral examiner in 2005 and helped launch the Core Exam.

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