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  • Residents & Fellows Corner

    August 01, 2014

    Survey Respondents Weigh In on New ABR Core Exam

    Residents have concerns about changes to the format and timing of the American Board of Radiology (ABR) Core Exam, according to a recent survey administered by the American Alliance of Academic Chief Residents in Radiology (A3CR2). The survey elicited responses from 212 chief residents representing 136 unique radiology residency programs.

    Concerns about the new exam, which debuted in fall 2013, included that it deemphasizes critical thinking, differential diagnoses and communication skills by substituting multiple choice questions for oral examinations. Respondents also questioned the decision to administer the exam in the third year of residency, with the certifying exam to follow 15 months later. “Residents are no longer board certified coming out of training,” a respondent observed. “We need to study for three months at the beginning of a job. Will practices adjust?”

    Some respondents praised the new exam as more objective than its predecessor and noted that the timing gets fourth-year residents back into service rather than perpetually studying.

    Other key findings from the survey included:

    • Salary and Benefits: Resident salaries have mirrored inflation, increasing 37 percent since 2002. Fewer respondents, however, reported receiving various benefits including book funds, lead aprons and registration fees and time off for conferences. More respondents reported receiving tuition and a travel stipend for ABR core exam review courses, tablets and other electronics. In particular, the RADPrimer reference has become increasingly offered to respondents, increasing from 16 percent in 2011 to 77 percent in 2014.
    • Call and Weekends, Attending Coverage, Readout: The number of radiology resident programs providing full-day Saturday and Sunday coverage has increased about 20 percent over the last three years. Twenty-four hours attending radiologist coverage of the emergency department has increased from 15 percent to 24 percent since 2010. Face-to-face post-call resident readout of cases has decreased.
    • Job Market Sentiment: There is a slightly greater optimism regarding the job market compared with prior years. A smaller percentage of respondents than the previous year reported being willing to make concessions on vacation, salary, location and call and weekend shifts in order to secure a position.
    • Radiology Informatics: While A3CR2 has conducted the survey annually since 2001, this year’s was the first to assess use of radiology informatics. About a third of respondents reported using a system that integrates relevant clinical data into a single program, while about one-quarter reported using data mining tools. Twenty percent of respondents use imaging decision support for computerized physician order entry and 17 percent use automated case tracking.

    View the full results of the 2014 Chief Resident Survey, as well as results from previous surveys, at AUR.org/A3CR2-Surveys.

    Resident Use of Informatics Tools
    (Click to enlarge): Resident use of Informatics Tools – For the first time, use of radiology informatics was assessed in this year’s American Alliance of Academic Chief Residents in Radiology survey.
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