Not all programs are alike. Some have advanced IT departments that will create whatever materials the faculty wants. Others have barely entered the digital era. Regardless of how far along the curve your program or hospital sits, we’ve all been thrust into this brave new world, now that residency programs and radiologists demand social distancing. So, let’s look at the requirements that remote learning tools should satisfy to be successful.
If you are looking to apply to programs, ask whether the residency has these tools. Or, if you are a resident or faculty member in a residency program, try to push the residency to get them. Residencies that do not have most of these remote learning tools are way behind the times!
What Do Programs Need For A Successful Remote Environment?
HIPAA Compliant Online Meeting Places
As much as I am a fan of Zoom, it does not allow for safe discussions about sensitive subjects. Just take a look at this Forbes article from the end of April 2020. We certainly cannot entrust private conversations about patient cases in this environment. Residents and attendings alike need to discuss patients in a setting where they don’t have to worry about hackers entering a meeting. If your hospital or imaging center insists on your radiologists using Zoom or other insecure remote viewing tools to look at patient images and information, it can put the patients and radiologists at risk.
Remote Application With Ease Of Use
What good is a remote tool if it takes you 2 hours to get on the network? We need to be able to reach our intended colleagues and fellow residents rapidly. Sitting in front of a computer and waiting a half hour to get past the initial page is not acceptable. All the remote tools must be quick use for anyone to logon.
Also, remote access tools need to be turnkey. We should be able to rapidly learn how to use them and have our colleagues respond accordingly. Moreover, hospitals should have networks to enable easy access to these resources.
Attendings and residents alike should use these online tools to go over cases and procedures together. Any faculty member or resident should contact each other with them at any time during the workday for learning.
Online Radiology Library
We are no longer in an era where we should need to have one resident wait for someone else to finish reading a radiology text from the library. All residents should have immediate access to both standard textbooks and relevant radiological periodicals online. Any hospital that does not allow for this needs to get with the times. A well-read resident should have all the reading materials that she needs.
Remote Noon Conferences/Scheduling
In addition to HIPAA compliant meeting places, all residencies should have their attendings ready to give noon conferences on the remote access tools. And, that implies all faculty members that provide lectures. It is no longer acceptable to have lecturers unable to give a noon conference because they do not know how to access or utilize the remote meeting applications.
Many programs have their residents digitally check-in in the morning or at the start of a noon conference to document that they have attended. Additionally, programs should have the online logs of cases that residents have performed or watched, not just for the six-month resident evaluations, but also for the program itself. This documentation helps with compliance to show that the residents have completed the appropriate requirements of residency. If public schools throughout the country can utilize remote attendance, radiology programs can undoubtedly do the same!
Acceptance Of The Remote Learning Environment
Finally, and probably most critically, all programs need to create a culture where we embed these tools into the fabric of the daily work. All attendings and residents alike should feel comfortable using these remote learning tools. And, they should make use of them whenever possible. There should be no excuses as to why the players within a residency program can’t work with the remote learning tools!
Remote Learning: The Way Of The World
Remote learning is no longer just a fancy accoutrement or add-on to a residency program. It has become a requirement that all residencies should satisfy to maintain the health and welfare of the residents and faculty alike. These factors should be the bare minimum for a successful residency experience. My advice: make sure your program takes remote learning seriously. It is a necessity for radiology learning today!