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Vital Signs

No more napping in darkened classrooms

By Amanda Thornton

Though not what most people would call a vacation, DMS's radiology elective used to be considered "a bit of a radi-holiday," puns Dr. Petra Lewis. When she was a radiology resident at DHMC in the mid- 1990s, she rarely saw students in the department. But things changed in 1998 when Lewis joined the faculty and became director of the radiology electives program.

Menu: No longer a "radi- holiday," the department's menu of educational opportunities now includes one basic and three specialized electives for fourth-year students. Radiology has also been incorporated earlier in the medical curriculum, with a computer-based learning program for third-year students and an elective for first- and second- years. And there are now nine hours of lectures—up from two hours a couple of years ago—during second year.

The reason for the changes is that radiology now touches nearly every other specialty. "Greater than 95 percent of [doctors] are going to be involved in ordering or interpreting some form of imaging," points out Lewis.

Useful: Students have been quick to realize the utility of the offerings. Basic Clinical Radiology is "one of themost useful and well-taught electives at DMS," says fourth-year student Scott Morgan. The course takes a multifaceted approach, ranging from interactive lectures to "Diagnosis Please?" e-mail quizzes. It also includes "Cool Case" presentations where, with the help of a faculty facilitator, students teach each other. Each student also chooses a

Lewis may lecture in a darkened room, but she's igniting interest in radiology.

Radiology now touches
nearly every other specialty,
points out Lewis.

subspecialty and shadows radiologists in that section.

The basic elective is offered quarterly and can accommodate up to eight students at a time. "It's almost always full because it's such a well-run elective," says fourth-year student Christopher Anderson. "It's a small group, and [the lecturers] are very interactive and ask a lot of questions."

The integration of radiology into other courses has also been popular. "We're building on different skill sets at the time [students] need them," Lewis says. In first-year Human Anatomy and

Embryology, for example, x-ray and CT images of normal anatomy are presented while students are dissecting those structures in the lab. During second year, radiology lectures are interspersed throughout the curriculum so students learn to use images to identify disease processes.

A new radiology component was also added to the third year: Case Oriented Radiology Education (CORE), a computer-based program. Students read a fictional case, choose the appropriate imaging modality, and interpret the images. There are CORE cases during the eightweek rotations in surgery, inpatient medicine, pediatrics, and ob-gyn-women's health.

More: Lewis's hope is that students are "exposed to radiology in an interesting way." Indeed, students have found the field so intriguing that more have chosen residencies in radiology since Lewis took over the electives—from an average of 6% a year in the 10 years before she became director to more than 8% a year in the almost 10 years since—60% higher than the national average of 5%. (A 10-year DMS average gives the truest picture, since the absolute numbers are so small that the percentage fluctuates from year to year.)

"Any time you interact with doctors that are enthusiastic and passionate about their work, . . . it has the potential to turn students on to something they might not have otherwise seen," Anderson says. He'd previously planned to go into emergency medicine but is now applying to residencies in radiology. "I'm a convert," he adds.

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