Professionalism and quality care

Our courses in professionalism, ethics and patient care are essential for radiologists in all practice settings. Professionalism and ethics are the core operating principles of the medical profession. Professionalism in medicine means:

  • Placing the interests of patients above your own
  • Setting and maintaining standards of competency and integrity
  • Providing society with expert advice on health-related matters

Show commitment to these values and improve the quality of patient care through RSNA's interactive, self-paced courses. Each course offers a personalized learning experience that was developed by a team of experts and peer reviewed for content, quality and clarity. All courses are free to members and SA-CME credit is available.

Professionalism courses

Historical evolution and principles of medical professionalism

This course presents contemporary principles for medical professionals with targeted ethical scenarios providing realistic experience practicing ethical behavior in the medical profession. Topics include a detailed explanation of the hallmarks of a professional, including the evolution of ethical behaviors in medical professions. Medical codes established throughout history, including the Hippocratic Oath, Declaration of Geneva and American Medical Association Code of Ethics, are examined. The American College of Radiology Code of Ethics and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine Code of Ethics are presented with examples of currently accepted ethical code frameworks that can be adapted into your practice.

Physician-physician and physician-patient interactions

Underlying all professional interactions are the principles of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice, as defined by the Belmont Report. This course highlights the importance of physician-physician and physician-patient interactions. Each of three scenarios incorporates the principles of beneficence and medical professionalism and presents an ethical challenge for key stakeholders in the scenario. An explanation of the ethical underpinnings is provided along with relevant details to assist in making ethical decisions.

Personal behavior, peer review and contract negotiations with employers

This course explores the basics of personal behavior, peer review, and contract negotiations with employers. Focusing on the onus of personal responsibility, this course provides a solid basis for understanding of courtesy, unwavering honesty, and personal responsibility in the workplace, illustrated through several real-life scenarios. The importance of peer review in preventing workplace bias and using peer review to promote effectiveness in practice is also covered. This course also includes contract negotiation basics and how to navigate ambiguous ethical situations through realistic scenarios.

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Professionalism in everyday practice

This course explores the application of principles and responsibilities as they relate to the Charter on Medical Professionalism. Established and currently accepted fundamental principles of medical professionalism are reviewed, including an outline of the ten commitments that must be adhered to in practice. The adoption of the Charter on Medical Professionalism by various professional organizations such as the American Board of Radiology is discussed. Real-life interactive ethical scenarios offer practice and include detailed explanations for each scenario outcome and most appropriate ethical course of action.

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Ethics courses

Conflict of interest

Medicine and scientific research have been influenced by secondary interests, such as financial or other incentives, inconsistent with the ethical practice of medicine. This course seeks to recognize and adequately address conflicts of interest through realistic scenarios that may occur between physicians, scientists and the broader health care community. Various accepted ethical codes of conduct for physicians and other healthcare professionals are identified, including those from the American Medical Association, Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology, Health Physics Society, Declaration of Geneva, and the World Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics. 

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Ethics of research

Delve into topics surrounding ethics of research and publication in this comprehensive course. Covering issues such as research with animals and human participants, this course will walk users through a variety of ethical scenarios related to ethical behavior during clinical research. This course covers data falsification, data fabrication, and plagiarism as important concepts to be avoided during the acquisition of research data. Additional information about proper data management and secure data storage is provided, with an emphasis on ownership of research data performed in an institutional setting. Several “Test your Knowledge” questions throughout the course encourage application of ethical principles to everyday situations encountered during clinical research. 

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Human subject research

Human subject research has been a hotly debated topic for decades. This course explores the history of human subject research and how events led to current ethical guidelines. True-to-life graphic scenarios explore the roles of the clinician versus the researcher. Crucial components necessary for the ethical performance of research involving humans are identified, including the role the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and governmental agencies play. 

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Relationships with vendors

This course will familiarize professionals with the principles of ethical relationships with vendors, the ethical underpinnings of financial conflicts of interest in such relationships, and codes of conduct established by government, institutions, and professional organizations to guide appropriate and professional behavior. The course also includes guidelines for ethical etiquette in cases of vendor-sponsored research, conflict of interest and public disclosure of financial relationships with vendors.

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Vertebrate animal research

This course reviews major ethical considerations related to the use of vertebrate animals in clinical and academic research. With an extensive review of historical, religious, and moral viewpoints, the course provides a solid foundation for understanding the history of human thought in regards to animal testing. It also covers details regarding the rights and protection of research animals. It also covers details on the rights and protection of research animals, including an introduction to the various animal rights and welfare organizations that advocate for animal rights. An overview of the current ethical climate will explore some key ethical questions that arise during vertebrate animal research.

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Publication ethics

This course provides a framework currently accepted as appropriate practice by the biomedical research community, which applies to all practitioners in medicine, including those in the fields of diagnostic radiology, radiologic physics, and radiation oncology. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ criteria for authorship assignment are discussed, and characteristics of a transparent peer review process and the responsibilities of reviewers, editors, and authors are reviewed. Duplicate manuscript submission and publication, including common mistakes, consequences, and secondary publication, are addressed along with definitions and forms of plagiarism. 

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Ethics in graduate and resident education

This course concentrates on ethical concepts and principles within the context of graduate and resident education in radiology, radiation oncology, and medical physics. It covers educational relationships including those among teachers, students, administrators, staff, and others through realistic scenarios that provide guidance on ethical decisions in the education setting. 

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Quality improvement certificate program

Show your commitment to quality improvement in radiology by earning an RSNA quality essentials certificate (QEC) or advanced level quality assurance certificate (ALQC). By completing the program, you will learn about quality improvement, its significance to radiology and best practice quality improvement techniques. Courses are held onsite at the RSNA annual meeting and are available online through the RSNA online learning center.

Since the program's inception in 2011, more than 1,500 in-person QECs and more than 2,400 online certificates, have been awarded.

Professionalism self-assessments

Developed by the RSNA Professionalism Committee, self-assessments cover a wide range of topics that radiologists may encounter in their practice. The scenarios are intended to strengthen your understanding of the need for radiologists to maintain professionalism in their routine practice and to facilitate discussion of this core competency.