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Five tips for making radiology education more effective for millennials

by John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
An imaging fellow who believed there must be a better way to train medical students teamed up with his program director to publish a paper calling for programs to be more geared toward millennials.

Dr. Po-Hao Chen, a fellow in musculoskeletal imaging in the Department of Radiology at Penn Medicine said that the current crop of radiologists in training – who are mostly millennials – are a misunderstood group. This, he asserts, can be attributed to their preference for constant feedback enabled by technology.

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“My co-residents and I found ourselves frustrated by the inefficiencies that seem to work against our educational goals,” Chen explained to HCB News. “As we made friends with residents from other programs, we realized many felt the same way. One main problem we were trying to address is the sense of disconnect between medical education and the rest of the world.”

For example, he noted that in many radiology programs it was faster to search the Internet than to request a specific case from the radiology information system. Turnaround times internally for such requests, per Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requirements, could take as long as several weeks.

“Feedback was collated and distributed only once every six months, when learning opportunities happen every day,” said Chen. “Our teaching conferences also consisted of mostly didactic-style lectures.”

The solution, he said, was to develop educational solutions grounded in feedback, relevance, and goal-setting, enhanced by technology. The resulting paper, which he co-authored with Dr. Mary Scanion, residency director and vice chair of education at Penn Medicine, was just published in Academic Radiology.

The paper calls for revamping teaching engagement strategies for today's radiology students with the following considerations:

Set specific goals: Leverage ACGME standards to create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-framed) goals from broad requirements.
Leverage technology: Supplement teaching moments with internet and database searches.
Give formative feedback: Make feedback actionable and linked to real-time readouts or procedures.
Create transparent assessments: Create mechanisms to provide frequent reporting on important metrics, and set operating benchmarks.
Encourage self-development: Support academic endeavors with time and funding.

Scanion trialed several new teaching engagement methods, Chen said, and some of them were deemed successful. She also encouraged several informatics projects to provide more timely feedback to imaging residents.

“Based on our work, millennials are not so much an entirely different group of learners,” said Chen. “Sometimes the frustration comes from the juxtaposition between the inefficiencies of their [workflow] and the hyper-connected smart devices and learning algorithms that populate their lives.”

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