By Yasha Gupta, MD
Because of CDC guidelines and governmental limitations of social distancing, most national conferences have been canceled. In-house resident conferences have also been canceled, because most residencies are larger than 10 people. These changes have caused a paradigm shift in the sphere of radiology education.
The first and perhaps most important change is using Zoom to host most conferences online. At my residency program, we have close to two hours of educational conferences every morning, beginning with 45 minutes of positive cases. Using the screen-sharing function, we can show cases directly from PACS. The online nature has improved attendance because anybody can join, even from home. Through our institution, we were able to employ an encrypted version of Zoom that is HIPAA compliant, making showing cases much easier. The second hour is educational: someone shares a PowerPoint presentation as though we were receiving conference in person.
A second change is that the Association of Program Directors in Radiology (APDR) has begun streaming live lectures every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. Two 30-minute lectures twice per week have replaced our noon conferences thanks to their efforts. The live nature of these lectures allows us to ask questions in real-time rather than having to send an email or ask someone after the fact. Even better, these lectures are recorded and placed on a website one week later to view at our own discretion – meaning that even after these COVID-era changes are over, we will still be able to use these resources. The APDR mobilized these efforts within two weeks and have lectures planned through the end of July. This is truly an incredible effort from our program directors.
MRI Online also began daily noon conferences from many physician educators we all know and love. Similarly, many attending physicians have been creating lectures on YouTube. Dr. Nicholas Koontz began uploading hour-long head and neck educational lectures. Many have followed in his footsteps, giving residents a significant amount of educational material to read.
Finally, residents have banded together to compile all the free resources available to us during this trying time. A Google document begun on Twitter is now circulating, with a complete compilation of resources for radiology residents. New resources are being added daily.
This pandemic has highlighted the value of social media and online networking, as well as the importance of online lectures. Everyone has had to embrace e-conference applications and learn to maximize their use. While COVID has become a national tragedy, the educational sphere has changed positively. These changes demonstrate the resilience of our specialty and will contribute to the growth of our field.
Yasha Gupta, MD, is chief resident at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is passionate about radiology education and specifically focused on increasing awareness of radiology at the medical student level. She is an advocate of social media and can be found tweeting away at all hours of the day @yashaguptamd.