Subspecialists must maintain general radiology skill set ahead of future crises, experts say

Subspecialist radiologists must maintain a jack-of-all-trades skill set to help address future crises, experts argue in a new opinion piece.

In small private practices, that is typically the case, with physicians interpreting all sorts of studies. But in larger academic medical centers, it is common for radiologists to spend entire careers never deviating from their narrow expertise.

However, two imaging experts from UCLA and the University of British Columbia pushed peers to broaden their focus to help out during future crises, as the current pandemic has forced many docs to do. In a commentary published Sunday in Clinical Imaging, they urged all radiologists to equip themselves to interpret general studies in the acute care setting.  

“…It is important for healthcare providers to maintain versatility and do some level of cross-training that may allow them to cover for others in times of need,” Arvind Vijayasarathi, MD, MBA, and Faisal Khosa, MD, MBA, with the UCLA Department of Radiology and UBC Faculty of Medicine, respectively, wrote July 26. “For radiologists, at a minimum, we should be ready and able to handle the challenge of interpreting diagnostic imaging outside of our chosen subspecialty.”

The pair offered several suggestions to remedy this situation, including: creating case conferences among different radiology sections, promoting continuing medical education, mentoring, or using machine learning to aid subspecialists operating outside their expertise.

“Perhaps even more importantly, departments should incentivize subspecialty radiologists to maintain their general skillset by offering internal moonlighting opportunities in acute care imaging settings,” the authors concluded. “By providing educational resources, clinical support, and financial incentives, academic radiology departments can help ensure that our workforce is better prepared to meet the needs of a future healthcare crisis.”

You can read more of the commentary in Clinical Imaging here.