Subspecialty focus beneficial for global radiology education

By Amerigo Allegretto, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

August 16, 2021 -- Web-based breast imaging content could help improve global radiology education, especially for residents, according to a pilot study published August 10 in Academic Radiology.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Toma Omofoye from the University of Texas created a web-based breast imaging curriculum supplement with the goal of making radiology education more accessible to residents worldwide.

"Online education is the new normal and should be approached intentionally and subjected to evaluation and feedback," Omofoye and colleagues wrote.

Graduate radiology education is inconsistent and doesn't have a formal curriculum, the researchers said. They cited radiology's dependence on "expensive, bulky" technology and socioeconomic constraints impacting the availability of human and structural resources. They also pointed to variable access to subspecialty education for the lack of uniformity in resident education.

"Web-based courses improve standardization, but with growing emphasis on competency-based education, more evaluation of their effectiveness is needed," the group said.

To help with this, Omofoye and colleagues created a web-based breast imaging curriculum for radiology residents including self-assessment and a satisfaction survey. They collaborated with the Singapore General Hospital in adding to the latter's curriculum for breast imaging.

The course itself includes nine didactic lecture topics related to breast imaging and contains recorded lectures, case studies, and self-assessments. Before viewing video lectures, the residents completed pretests. From there, they could view instructional videos an unlimited number of times before taking a posttest, with correct answers being shown only after completing the posttest. Residents with satisfactory scores could claim a certificate of completion.

The course was deployed in April 2020 to 56 radiology residents in a cluster of four hospitals and five national specialty centers managing more than 200,000 inpatient and 2 million outpatient visits a year. Coincidentally, this was also early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The residents could choose to use the lectures as an educational supplement during their breast imaging rotation.

The course was also designed to allow continuous feedback and improvement. Data were retrieved from April 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021.

A total of 39 residents completed the course with testing. Out of these, nine were in year 1, 11 in year 2, seven in year 3, seven in year 4, and five in year 5. Out of the total who completed the course, 15 residents completed the course within six weeks, 11 completed it between six to 12 weeks, and other trainees took up to six months to complete the course.

For nine didactic lectures, all posttest scores were significantly improved after the lectures. A significant increase was also seen for the average score of nine lectures from the pretest (2.5 out of 5) to posttest (4.6 out of 5).

Learners in the first two residency postgraduate years meanwhile showed greater improvement on breast MRI than the more senior residents.

Satisfaction surveys were completed by 33 of the residents, all of whom either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "This course increased my knowledge of breast imaging." Twenty-nine residents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "The course lectures complement teaching at my current institution," while the remaining four were neutral.

"Our findings show that a customized web-based breast imaging course improved radiology residents' self-assessed knowledge of key topics was viewed positively by the residents and was viewed as a favorable adjunct to existing breast imaging training at the residents' institution," the researchers said.

The team said future steps for wider implementation of this course include virtual live sessions and improvements to closed captioning technology. The group also said the online format could benefit low- to middle-income countries with gaps in radiology subspecialty education.


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