Ever been frustrated watching your nuclear medicine attendings use their proprietary software adeptly, while you do not understand how they manipulate the images? Or, do you notice that some of your faculty can look at a whole series with a slice by slice comparison by setting them with a point, but you can’t? Although hospital and corporate information technology should create systems easy and intuitive for every radiologist to use, in the real world, it is not the case. And, even though you may know your radiology and anatomy cold, there are serious ramifications if you do not know what I like to call technology background or “buttonology” knowledge to operate the systems.
So, first, I am going to elucidate why “buttonology” and some radiology technology background can become so critical to your skills and practices. And, then I will tell you what computer features you should expect to learn during your residency and why.
Reasons For Learning “Buttonology” And Getting A Technology Background
Helps Us With Our Job
In general, most of the technology that we use make our lives easier. It may not seem so at the beginning. But, when you do get to know how to manipulate images and information the right way, it can increase efficiency. Heck, what was life like before Picture Archiving And Communication Systems (PACs)? We read half the amount of films in double the time!
Can’t Function Without It!
I cannot even imagine how I would function without knowing how to make measurements or to get to the next case on the queue. So, it requires us to make time for learning at least the bare minimum of what we need to know to get us through the day whether we like it or not!
May Use It After You Leave Residency!
Believe it or not, yes, life exists after residency. And, many of the same hated technologies that you use during your residency, you will likely need to know later as well. I can still remember learning Penrad (a mammo text-based dictation system) that I could not stand during my residency. It took hours to learn how to use it properly. And, I thought it was a waste of time. But, you know what? It has become a regular part of my day as an attending who reads some mammography. You never know what you will need to grasp after you finish.
Clinicians May Ask For It
In our practice, clinicians ask for the use of specific technologies and documentation in our reports. So, it behooves us to learn them to stay in business. Yes, it took some time to learn how to use the DATquant software to determine the likelihood of Parkinson’s disease in patients. But, now we have cornered the market. It was well worth the effort!
Technological Features You Need To Know
OK. We need to learn these technologies even though it is a time sink and may seem distasteful. So, what are the tools that we need to look out for and take time to learn? We will go through some of the basics here.
Tools To Function Daily
This first category would be the most obvious. It would be the technology background that you need to get through the day as a radiology resident. So, which are the essential tools that residents should take time to learn? You should acquire mastery of measurement tools (distance, Hounsfield units, angles, etc.) Each resident should also be able to scroll, pan, window, link cases, and perform necessary reconstructions in a pinch.
You also need to operate any computer system that you will need to make it through a night of call. These include the general nuclear medicine imaging readers, CT perfusion technologies, and so on.
And then finally, you need to know some of the other functions that if you do not remember, you cannot read the cases. These technologies would include the dictation software and sending images to the correct workstation or software.
Tools You May Need After Residency
In your hospital and departments, you will most likely not need to know all of the technologies available. However, you may find some of them will pay off in spades later on when you begin your first job. You never know. RIS systems, complex nuclear medicine applications, mammography software, etc. are only some of the technologies that you may encounter. You may not “need” them now, but it may be worth it to put the time in upfront to learn them if you think there is a chance you may use them. If possible, you do not want to learn them at your first job where you will waste a lot more time. And, more importantly, you will seem a lot less efficient when you begin as an attending.
“Buttonology” And Your Technology Background Can Make Or Break You
Knowing the “buttonology” of radiology systems can be critical for your professional development and future career. Without the tools that you will need, at best, you may make yourself inefficient. And, at worst, you may not last at your first or second job. So, during residency, take the time to learn the basics of PACs functionality and hospital systems. Think of it as an investment in your future. I promise that it will pay off big time!