Since Covid-19 began, most radiology residencies throughout the country have moved to a model of all remote lectures. At first, it was a knee-jerk reaction, which was entirely logical at the time. Now that we have a better idea of the disease and how it spreads, programs can return to a system with some live lectures. Programs can safely organize conferences with smaller groups in larger spaces to reduce transmission chances. Like public schools, many radiology residencies are returning to some form of a hybrid system with remote and on site lectures.
However, not all programs are going in that direction. So, what have residents lost over the past half-year by having remote lectures only? And, do they stand to gain anything by returning to some form of in-house live classes? Let’s go through why most programs should, in-part, try to get back to some on site lectures.
Keep Residents Awake And Focused
I’ve been in this situation many times. Zoom starts up, and instead of having the camera focused on your face, you decide to put a picture up with a likeness of you and start completing other work. Or, you tend to another conversation at the same time. The bottom line is that it is much easier to lose focus when you are in a remote environment because there is less buy-in. Many other options are available to capture your attention than the lecture itself.
More Invested In Studying For The On Site Lectures
If you know that you will attend a lecture in person, you are much more likely to read up on a topic. Why? Because you don’t want to look like a total dullard. That motivation is vital for some residents to stay on top of their reading. Going remote without that feeling of obligation decreases the resident’s responsibility to learn some of that material beforehand. Anonymity breeds less involvement in the subject matter.
The Personal Touch
Once you go online to listen to your conferences, you lose some of the nuances of the conversation. The lecturer may not see those beads of sweat welling onto your forehead when you are unsure of an answer. Likewise, the listener may lose the tone of the lecturer, perhaps frustration or satisfaction. By missing these cues, you also lose the opportunity to figure out what you might be missing in the conversation and help that student or redirect the speaker.
Training on Software
I don’t know about your program. We have lots of different programs in our nuclear medicine department to help us interpret images. We have one system for DATscan quantification, another method for Neuroquant, a general PACS, GE software for processing cardiac studies, TeraRecon for looking at PET-CT scans, and Intellispace for remote nuclear medicine access. I’m probably even missing a few more. However, my point is that it is challenging to train residents on software without that hands-on touch in person. In my experience, Zoom like encounters for this sort of training does not do the trick. It can be harder to point out how to use different kinds of programs and software.
Finally, joint meetings lead to shared experiences both from students/residents and lecturers as well. When you are all in the same environment, you build trust, social interactions, and the feeling of a team environment. It’s just not the same taking your conferences online where you can’t discuss issues after the lecture or crack a few jokes together. It tends to be all business, not the sort of environment that helps to form bonds.
Returning To On Site Lectures Once Again!
As much as it may be more convenient to give and receive lectures by Zoom, there is a role for returning to some form of on-site classes. Of course, remaining healthy is a top priority in almost any residency program. But, it is possible to keep your lecturers and residents at reasonably low risk if you take the proper precautions. So, based on the net positives of keeping residents focused, improving resident studying, personalizing the learning experiences, better technical training, and maintaining a team environment, hopefully, your program is considering on site training in some form once again. It’s not just for show. These are tangible benefits to the on site experience!