RSNA 2020: Fast 5 presentations offer insight into how radiology is changing during the pandemic

At the first-ever virtual Fast 5 presentation, Richard Heller, MD, introduced five speakers from around the world. Each of the non-clinical topics reflected this year’s theme of “Human Insight/Visionary Medicine” in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two speakers addressed the global nature of society and the importance of culture, while the final three speakers shared the changes they've experienced during the pandemic.

George Koshy Vilanilam, MBBS, a radiology resident at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in little Rock, Arkansas, presented “International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in Radiology: Challenges and Opportunities”. He shared when IMGs join the U.S. healthcare system, they play a large role in meeting the workforce demands of the American population, particularly in providing radiology services to underserved rural areas. “Mentorship and sponsorship of IMGs are important to enable diversity and innovation within organizations. More importantly, it's knowing the problems and being prepared to handle the unique challenges IMGs face to promote intentional inclusion as well as retention of IMGs,” he said.

Michael David Chaim Fishman, MD, a a breast imaging radiologist from Boston Medical Center, discussed the pitfalls of a toxic work culture in his presentation, “Culture Club: Why Radiology Practice Culture Matters More than Ever”. In 2019, radiologist burnout was an invisible epidemic considered one of the biggest threats to radiology. Now, paired with the pandemic of 2020, burnout is an even larger challenge. The key, he says, is to adopt work cultures of wellness, flexibility and helpfulness. “My wish for us radiology professionals is that we support each other to reach our best selves and reestablish a respectful, positive workplace culture where burnout will plummet. Respectful behavior drives positive emotions, driving productivity and wellbeing in an upward spiral,” he said.

From a vibrant hub of activity to a lonely PACS. That’s how Jennifer Suzanne Weaver, MD, an associate professor from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, described the impact of COVID-19 on her MSK reading room with “What We Learned from the Pandemic: The Importance of Community.” She shared how her residents and faculty struggled with isolation during the pandemic, and how they implemented creative solutions to create connection in a time of disconnection.

“Technology can help break down barriers and provide valuable educational opportunities. It is not a replacement for human interaction, but rather a facilitator of human interaction. The biggest lesson that the pandemic has taught us is that even when we are physically distanced, we must find ways to be socially, emotionally, and educationally together. In other words, we must remain a community,” she said.

Before the pandemic, Aisling Fagan, MBBCh, a radiology resident from Imperial College NHS Trust in London, and her classmates learned by crowding around a packed workstation. After COVID-19, remote learning was accomplished through sharing screens. In her presentation, “Can You Hear Me Now? A Resident’s Perspective on Virtual Radiology Education”, she shared that the number of students who rated the training experience as positive jumped from just 13% pre-pandemic to 94%. “COVID-19 has forced us to change our ways. We’re not just surviving, we’re thriving. When this is over, I hope that we don’t go back to crowding around workstations, trying to catch a glimpse of the key finding that cinches the diagnosis.”

Dyan Vallejo Flores, MD, a musculoskeletal imaging fellow from St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, presented “Talking to Thumbnail Images: Radiology Education Today (and Tomorrow?)”. She addressed the new normal of talking to thumbnail images of colleagues on a screen, and what that means for the radiology community moving forward.

“Nobody knows for certain what the next few months will bring, but whether seated side-by-side or facing each other screen-to-screen, radiology education will continue to evolve,” she said. “In fact, only one thing is constant, and it is a theme that you have seen throughout this entire session. Visionary medicine will always require human insights.”

You can follow the Fast Five conversation on Twitter with #RSNAFast5.

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