Radiology residents gain experience, improve patient care through training program

Establishing an advanced quality training program for radiology residents can benefit trainees while also leading to improvements in patient care, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

In 2016, the study’s authors established a two-year advanced quality training curriculum for diagnostic and interventional radiology residents within their health system.

“Although our residency program requires all trainees to complete a quality improvement project as part of their curriculum, we desired a more robust option for residents seeking advanced supplementary training,” wrote Kara Gaetke-Udager, MD, department of radiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues.

Once the first participants had successfully completed the program, Gaetke-Udager et al. worked to measure its effectiveness in helping trainees and improving quality. Five residents participated in the program, leading to four submitted projects and seven other projects being pursued. The participants worked on nine local process improvements and three multicenter process improvements. The work also resulted in eight publications, three awards and the establishment of 14 mentor-mentee relationships.

“All residents formed mentoring relationships with one or more faculty members, actively participated in our department's quality committee, and presented their work at local and national meetings,” the authors wrote. “Several of their efforts resulted in real improvements in clinical care.”

One example of how these improvements led to better patient care is the resident who researched the release of test results through an online patient portal. The resident’s work helped detail what patients expect from such a portal and how waiting for results impacts them. These findings were presented to a hospital-wide committee at the institution, leading to a significant change to the existing embargo period.

Another resident’s work found that “routine chest radiography of patients without symptoms was likely unnecessary because the risk of pneumothorax in patients without symptoms was very low.” This led to a direct change to one service line and opened up a conversation about making changes to a second service line.

Each resident reported that they gained “firsthand experience” and “real-world leadership skills” from participating in the program. The researchers also noted three of the participants were eligible to take the American Board of Radiology Core Exam, with all three passing on their first attempt.

“The real-world experience gained by the participants led to local and national improvements, publications, the potential for lifelong relationships, and practical skills that should serve the trainees in their future careers,” the authors concluded. “Programs wishing to develop future leaders might consider a similar approach.”