RSNA’s international educational programs not only profoundly affect their many participants but also create a ripple effect that touches hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring and practicing radiologists and patients in far reaches of the globe.
Some of those experiences were recounted for the first time during the RSNA 2013 refresher course, “RSNA Educational Programs Around the World: An International Forum,” featuring presenters from Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria and Thailand.
“We’ve been offering these programs for a long time, but this was the first time we heard directly from the participants,” said Teresita L. Angtuaco, M.D., a professor of radiology and director of the Division of Imaging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and chair of RSNA’s Committee on International Radiology Education (CIRE). “It was very gratifying to hear what they had to say and to know that the time and money RSNA spends is going toward something really important.”
RSNA established the International Visiting Professor (IVP) program in 1986, the Derek Harwood-Nash (DHN) International Fellowship in 1998 and the Introduction to Research for International Young Academics (IRIYA) in 2000. The programs continue to evolve to accommodate RSNA’s ever-growing international membership.
The DHN International Fellowship brings promising international scholars to study at North American institutions, while the IVP annually sends professors to lecture at national radiology society meetings and visit radiology residency training programs at selected host institutions in developing nations.
Participants say the life-changing experiences put their careers on a new trajectory.
For Savvas Andronikou, M.B.B.Ch., Ph.D., of South Africa, his 2007 DHN International Fellowship at Columbia Medical Center, New York City, helped establish him as an internationally recognized pediatric radiologist.
“When I came back to South Africa, I was made chair of my department and it definitely made a big difference to the committee that I had international experience and added knowledge,” said Dr. Andronikou, now a professor and research coordinator in the radiology department of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. “Without the fellowship, I wouldn’t have made half the American contacts I have now and I wouldn’t have been awarded honorary membership in the U.S. Society for Pediatric Radiology.”
Since learning about diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in New York, Dr. Andronikou has established research relating to white matter disease in pediatric HIV, co-authored papers on DTI, collaborated with American researchers and supervised dozens of doctoral and masters’ projects. He also has helped bring imaging services and radiology education to developing countries as chairman of the outreach committee of the World Federation of Pediatric Imaging.
Omolola M. Atalabi, M.B.B.S., M.B.A., of Nigeria, described how her 2007 DHN International Fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Boston set off a cascade of career-defining events, including serving as secretary of the Association of Radiologists of West Africa Nigeria Chapter that hosted the IVP program in 2008, co-authoring 41 journal articles and receiving a 2010 RSNA Research & Education Foundation seed grant to study ultrasound in assessing the renal status of Nigerian children with malaria. Dr. Atalabi now serves as senior lecturer and radiologist at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.
“Dr. Atalabi has become an authority and mentor to younger women in her country,” Dr. Angtuaco said.
As the Executive Director of the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt, Norran H. Said, M.D., took back life-changing lessons after her 2011 DHN International Fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University, Boston. While Egypt has a nationwide breast screening program, many women don’t return for further evaluation due to cultural factors and lack of awareness, according to Dr. Said.
“At Brigham’s, I was able to follow up my interpretations with radiologic pathologic correlation, which increased my sensitivity and specificity,” Dr. Said observed. “Discussing these findings in multidisciplinary meetings was a privilege that I took home. My generous professors gave me a variety of teaching cases that were well perceived by my colleagues.”
Having spent early mornings in a Kenyan wild game park and afternoons in a busy African teaching hospital last summer, Kathirkamanthan Shanmuganathan, M.D., M.B.B.S., a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, can attest to the once-in-a-lifetime experience the IVP program offers. He, Harris L. Cohen, M.D., and Leanne L. Seeger, M.D., spent 18 days participating in the annual scientific conference of the Kenyan Association of Radiology and visiting two hospitals in Nairobi.
IVP teams have traveled to 43 developing nations to lecture at radiology meetings and work one-on-one with radiology residents in local hospitals. “Having these exchanges is so useful,” Dr. Shanmuganathan said. “You see disease there that you don’t see in America. Because a large number of patients in Kenya come to the hospital when disease is in late stages, nearly all the scans are positive.”
The visiting professors established a new “whole body” CT protocol to evaluate the polytrauma patients and encouraged the more than 50 radiology residents who attended their lectures to consider subspecialty training. One resident, Karen Onyambu, M.D., called the IVP visit to her hospital “an eye-opener” and will be a DHN fellow this fall at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Dr. Angtuaco visited Thailand with the IVP program for the second time in 2010, when the group was asked to help improve the country’s seven radiology residency programs. “They wanted to know how the U.S. operated their residencies and had all seven of their program directors in attendance,” she said.
Based on the visiting professors’ recommendations and a large-scale study, the group is planning to increase resident training in specialized imaging, such as color Doppler ultrasound, musculoskeletal MR imaging, and medical IT, said Chamaree Chuapetcharasopon, M.D., of the Royal College of Radiologists of Thailand.
“The IVP program has brought new knowledge and ideas to us,” Dr. Chuapetcharasopon, a CIRE committee member, added. “Our residents are like children—excited about everything—and our junior faculty gained not only additional knowledge but also suggestions on how to teach.”
The IRIYA program helps young radiology professionals galvanize careers in teaching and research, offering 15 scholars/young academics the chance to attend specialized courses, small group discussions, dinner receptions and networking opportunities during RSNA’s annual meeting.
“The selection committee tries to select half the participants from developing nations and half from the developed world,” said Brian F. Mullan, M.D., professor of radiology at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Iowa City, and a CIRE subcommittee chair. “They spend about half their time with American residents and half in programs that are specialized for them.”
Some of the best interactions are the informal gatherings and question-and-answer periods with IRIYA faculty and residents from around the world, Dr. Mullan said. “We’ve had discussions about compensation and internal motivation and balancing work and family life that lead to interesting exchanges between the American and international students,” he said.
A 2012 PubMed survey indicated that 85 young radiology professionals who participated in the program between 2005 and 2009 have authored 1,113 articles.
In addition to enhancing relations between RSNA and radiology associations around the world, RSNA’s international programs provide education and support at various stages of a radiologist’s career.
Despite their unique individual goals, the programs share an element that is key to their success—one-on-one interaction between students and teachers. “Interactive relationships are the most important things we can offer in our education programs and something we should continue to support,” Dr. Angtuaco said.
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