5 Reasons Why Residents Trying to Learn Imaging Physics Are Overwhelmed, Overburdened & Exhausted

From physicists not having the time to teach medical residents to learning technical topics that are not their primary focus, we’ll explain the 5 reasons why 1 out of every 9 residents fail the ABR core examination.
1. Reliance on Lecture-Based Teaching
Listening to a lecture is an ineffective method of learning.

Some go as far as claiming that it is a medieval technique.

This is the main reason why Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard University, has been campaigning against stale lecturing techniques for 27 years.

Unfortunately for residents, medical imaging physics is still primarily taught via lecture.

The very dense recommended curriculum and limited teaching time forces many medical physics instructors to rely on structured lessons focusing mainly on lectures in order to ensure all of the required physics topics are covered with residents.

And that’s if the residents are lucky!

Because the limited availability of physics instructors poses another problem for residents, as explained below.

2. The Physics Instructor Dilemma

The involvement of Medical Physicists in resident physics education is essential to ensure the dissemination of the physics curriculum is accurate and complete. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires a medical physicist to oversee the development of the physics curriculum.

Unfortunately, there are a limited number of qualified and dedicated medical physicists with the bandwidth and interest to teach residents.

Some of the challenges programs have with finding a medical physicist to support resident physics education include::

  • Some facilities do not have an in-house physicist to provide education
  • There are a small number of diagnostic imaging physicists who are interested in teaching
  • Some physicists are only comfortable teaching certain parts of the required curricula
  • Many physicists do not have training in education principles and techniques
  • Some physicists struggle with teaching the material at a level that is relatable and understandable to the resident
  • Many physicists do not have the time or resources to develop innovative teaching tools and methods
  • Some physicists do not enjoy teaching and don’t want to teach

Because of these issues, residents may be forced to teach themselves Imaging Physics by reading thick, dense physics books.

There’s an alternative to reading medical imaging books for residents.

And that’s consuming online didactic modules.

But the problem is that some of these online modules are also very dense and time-consuming to complete, and there is no instructor for them to ask questions or get clarification from.

3. Residentshave Limited Bandwidth for Medical Imaging Physics Education

Although physics education is important to residents, it takes time away from and competes with the time they can devote to their clinical training.

Here are two other factors that make it difficult for the residents to make learning imaging physics part of their regular routine.

Residents on Night Shift or Vacation

Residents may be on a different shift or on vacation during didactic physics sessions. If the sessions aren’t recorded the resident may not be able to make up the material, even if they could find the time to do so Clinical assignments and personal days off make it extremely difficult to catch up.

Residents on Different Rotation

Residents may be on different rotations and experience challenges that make it difficult to stay engaged with the topic being covered during didactic physics sessions because it’s a different focus than their current clinical rotation. (e.g., they need to understand CT physics, but the instructors are discussing Mammography physics).
4. An Incredible Amount of Reading and Studying is Needed
Medical imaging physics is a specialty that is different than what residents are learning on their clinical rotations, and it may require a lot of reading or self-study to fully understand.

Unlike other specialties, where you can learn from the experience of taking cases, physics is often difficult to correlate with clinical cases unless you already understand physics concepts.

If you don’t read or study physics routinely, it is easy to let clinical priorities take precedence and before you realize it, you are behind in studying physics and at risk of failing the core examination.

Many residents don’t know or understand the requirements related to physics education when starting their residency and don’t appreciate how important it is to routinely study physics, which is problematic. 

But, even if residents commit to reading and studying medical imaging physics books, there’s still another hurdle.

5. Medical Imaging Physics Books are Too in Depth Compared to the Level of Understanding Residents Need to Have
Medical imaging physics can be tough to comprehend without a trained and dedicated physics instructor to help interpret the material.

And as discussed earlier, the availability of qualified medical imaging physics instructors’ is another issue in and of itself.

It is hard to focus on a one-hour physics lecture especially on a technical topic where the material is so dense and when it is not a resident’s primary focus or interest.

And as previously discussed, a resident’s bandwidth for learning physics is limited due to many conflicting priorities and responsibilities.

The textbooks and study materials that a resident has at their disposal to learn physics are dense and filled with information that may not be relevant, making it difficult to focus on the essential material.  

Rather than providing a concise overview, textbooks, and study material present a large amount of overwhelming data that residents are expected to remember.

And the volume of data and facts that residents are required to retain can be overwhelming as they are already struggling with a very demanding workload.

How Sybil Digital Learning Mitigates the Current Flawed Curriculum
Medical imaging physics is challenging to learn
The current tools and resources at the resident’s disposal are often not helpful
Medical physicists have limited time and resources to teach residents
Not to mention physicists’ may not be available to teach
All of this results in residents often finding themselves overwhelmed and exhausted when trying to learn Imaging Physics
Why is Sybil Digital Learning’s Online Medical Imaging Physics Course Different?
Sybil Digital Learning is an innovative education company that develops medical e-learning solutions for residents.

Our goal is to help residents learn physics faster and retain their learning longer so they can apply physics principles to their clinical practice and pass their board exams without having to spend hours reading textbooks or listening to lectures.

How have we been able to achieve this goal?

The best way to help residents learn physics and prepare for their board exams is by helping them with two things:

1. Increasing comprehension

2. Retaining knowledge

Sybil Digital Learning uses a new approach called the hybrid learning model to accomplish these two things.

And what this unique learning model does, is illuminate the very complex concepts of medical imaging physics.

So residents can learn faster.

Understand complex material and concepts better.

And most importantly, retain the knowledge gained longer.

How Does the Hybrid Learning Model Work?

Our hybrid learning model integrates two critical elements when it comes to medical imaging physics education.

1. Short, relevant, and concise micro module-based video courses that allow you to learn the material when and where it is convenient for you and review the material as often as you want.
2. Integration of the best in classroom-based medical imaging physics education available through online study and reverse classroom learning led by a qualified medical physics educator to ensure you understand and can apply physics information to your clinical practice.
The use of state-of-the-art graphics and animations throughout our courses help power resident learning and illuminate difficult concepts and elements of the imaging physics curriculum.

Lastly, these micro-module-based courses are published on our online platform.

So residents have 24/7 access, giving them the ability to consume the information at their own pace.

Our platform also offers flexibility for different learning styles by giving residents options they’ve never had before, such as:

  • Variable speed video content
  • Written content
  • In-person Zoom question and review sessions
Who Can Benefit From Our Visually-aided Courses?
These are the people who may benefit from using our eLearning courses:
  • Radiology Residents and Program Directors
  • Medical Residents and Fellows in other specialties
  • Imaging Technologists
  • Medical Physicists in Training
  • Physicians
  • Medical Students
  • Physics instructors

See for yourself!

Check out this free video lesson and see for yourself how easy it is to learn physics as our instructors guide you through difficult and complex concepts with the use of video animations!

1) I'm a... *

2) Which of the following topics are you interested in? *

Choose as many as you like
  • Radiography

  • Ultrasound

  • Fluoroscopy

  • Mammography

  • Computed Tomography

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging

  • Nuclear Medicine

  • Radiation Safety

  • Radiation Biology

  • Other

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