Welcome to the second annual review of the Association Of University Radiologists meeting in 2018! So, why do I think we should review this meeting on an annual basis? Well, for one, many of the changes in residency you will experience stem from the academic realm.
Moreover, if you were to read the headlines and the summary of the lecture topics of the conference alone you would not get a good sense of what they will be changing. For example, this year, the heading of the meeting states “Health And Well-Being Of Profession And The Professional”. However, this theme is a small part of what actually happened at the meeting.
Yes, the lecturers did cover the topics of burnout and depression, relevant to the heading. But, if you dig a little bit deeper, compared to these themes, you would recognize that many other themes will impact future residents much more. So, what are the undercurrents that were most relevant? Basically, I am going to divide these topics as follows: continued improvement of the job market, increasing radiology residency match competition, the online longitudinal assessment, Radexam, and increasing time requirements for program directors.
The Hot Improving Radiology Job Market
Out of all the news, I think this is probably the most important. Based upon the hot topics lecture series at the AUR meeting, radiology has climbed out of its doldrums and now returns to a more normal job market. In the most recent year, over 1800 positions were available for new graduates. Very recently, the number of new hires amounted to the low 1100-1300. Furthermore, according to the conference, next year they predict that practices will need 2133 new hires. So, workforce demands are significantly increasing. My reasoning for the sudden increase in available jobs: a wave of retirements and willingness of practices to hire due to stable/good economic conditions. So, congratulations to all residents who chose radiology over the past 4-5 years! You can look forward to a great job market.
Continued Increasing Competitiveness Of Diagnostic Radiology Residency
Similar to the previous year, the competitiveness of radiology residency in the match continues to increase. As in the previous year, the unfilled spots continues to decrease and the percentage of US grads entering radiology residency continues to increase. All of these signs point to a much more difficult time for the US and foreign grads to match in radiology.
Online Longitudinal Assessment Replacing 10 Year Exam
Yes, I know that many of you have not yet thought about the maintenance of certification requirements once you have completed your residency. However, this new program will impact all residents today once you graduate and become board certified. No longer will ABR diplomates need to take an exam every 10 years to maintain certification (unless you do not satisfy the requirements of the new program). Rather, everyone who takes the online assessment will be able to skip the test and simply answer weekly questions that you receive via email.
Each year you will receive 104 question opportunities and you can choose to answer as few as 52 per year. You need to pass the scoring performance criteria based on 200 questions every 4 years. Fortunately, this system will replace the time sink of having to attend a test in Chicago every 10 years with all its expenses. I am certainly looking forward to bagging my unnecessary trip to Chicago for the recertification examination!
Radexam Now Operational
For residency programs throughout the country, many have implemented the new Radexam, replacing the old in-service examination. From my experience, the old in-service examination served a futile role in evaluating residents over the 4 years of residency. I believe no correlation existed between the passage of the core examination and the in-service exam. Now, this fact may change. The new Radexam crowdsources questions from numerous question writers throughout the country. And, the questions are vetted and evaluated for validity. In addition, the exam tests residents according to individual residency level. They can be used at the end of a rotation. Eventually, the exams can be tailored toward the types of rotations the radiology residency has (modality or organ based). I look forward to evaluating the quality of this new exam. More importantly, I believe it has the potential to revolutionize evaluation of residents, especially at smaller programs.
Increased Mandated Program Director Time Requirements Officially Implemented Starting July 1, 2018
Especially at the smaller programs like ours, the new ACGME rules about program director minimum time requirements will create an enormous impact on the management of residency programs throughout the country. Check out this webpage from the ACGME and the associated chart below:
0.3 full-time equivalent (FTE) for programs approved for eight to 15 residents; (Core)
0.4 FTE for programs approved for 16 to 23 residents; (Core)
0.5 FTE for programs approved for 24 to 31 residents; (Core)
0.6 FTE for programs approved for 32 to 39 residents; (Core)
0.7 FTE for programs approved for 40 to 47 residents; (Core)
0.8 FTE for programs approved for 48 to 55 residents; (Core)
0.9 FTE for programs approved for 56 to 63 residents; (Core)
1.0 FTE for programs approved for 64 to 71 residents; (Core)
1.1 FTE for programs approved for 72 or more residents. (Core)
Basically, the minimum required time for program directors to administrate programs has in many cases doubled. At our program, we are going from a 0.2 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) (one day of administration time per week) to a 0.4 FTE (two days of administration time per week). As many programs have suffered from lack of administration time for programs directors, this change should enhance the quality of many radiology residencies. Some manpower/administrative issues that remained unresolved in radiology residencies can now be tackled due to decreased time pressures.
Final Thoughts About The AUR Meeting
Unlike previous meetings over the past four or five years, most of the doom and gloom has passed. Ironically, although the headline lectures were about depression and burnout, the mood was much more upbeat for new and graduating residents. Between the rising job market and the stable economy, the new MOC, increased program director time requirements, and the new Radexam, things are looking up. Even the wave of concerns about artificial intelligence replacing radiologist has seemed to pass us by! (No one believes that it will replace radiologists any time soon). So, for all radiology residents, you are entering the field at a great time. And, this meeting certainly confirmed my suspicions!