Oxford emergency/on-call radiology course
Authors: Fiona Pathiraja
Publication date: 27 Oct 2012
The idea of being the only radiologist on call overnight fills new radiology trainees with terror. What if I miss a bleed? When do I call my consultant? Do I routinely do ultrasound scans for torsion? The Oxford emergency/on-call radiology course aims to answer these questions and to provide radiology trainees with the confidence to face their first on-call shift. It is specifically designed to provide an overview of and to recap the key things not to miss when on call in emergency radiology.
Why do it?
If you want to be prepared for your first on-call shift as a radiology registrar or want to refresh your general emergency radiology, this is the course for you. Course delegates were mainly new radiology registrars but also included emergency medicine and surgical trainees. Nearly all UK radiology training programmes were represented, and delegates came from as far away as Australia, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.
Although many other on-call radiology courses have sprung up, this one has been running for nine years and is held in high regard by radiology trainees across the country. It is also advertised on various deanery websites, such as the London Deanery’s Synapse site (www.londondeanery.ac.uk/specialty-schools/synapse).
Who runs it?
Jonathan Willatt, a consultant radiologist who trained in the UK and is now an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, runs the course. The faculty comprised UK consultant radiologists from teaching hospitals, such as the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, and an invited emergency radiology speaker from the United States.
How is it structured?
The course was split into two days and was held at the Said Business School, part of Oxford University. Teaching was structured according to bodily systems, and each session included teaching of different imaging modalities, such as emergency neurology computed tomography and magnetic resonance, and emergency abdominal computed tomography and ultrasound. All commonly encountered on-call topics were covered, along with common pitfalls and “must not miss” areas such as cervical spine fractures and non-accidental injury.
In addition to the didactic teaching, there were many opportunities for interactive evening on-call sessions, where delegates worked through their approach to clinical cases and radiological findings. The interactive sessions were designed to simulate a busy evening on call with requests from various clinical specialties.
What was the highlight of the course?
The interactive segments were very popular with delegates, and this is where we learnt the most. There was a lot of opportunity for peer learning in small groups during these sessions, as what you might decide to do about a case is not necessarily what your colleague would do. Although excellent theoretical knowledge is essential, on-call work is really about decision making, thinking on your feet, and applying that theoretical knowledge. The interactive learning was useful in helping with this and identifying weaknesses.
What did it cost?
The course cost a reasonable £260 (payable though PayPal). A subsidised cost of £200 each is available to those who book as a group of three or more. The fee may be redeemable through study leave budgets, depending on the deanery. Course costs cover food and a comprehensive course handbook, but delegates must find their own accommodation in Oxford.
Was it worth it?
In a word, yes. Doing the course meant that overnight on-call shifts with no consultant present on site were just that little bit less scary. Although nothing compares with actually doing an on-call shift on your own, this course signposted areas where you should read up, and the interactive sessions increased confidence. The handbook is a good reference guide to keep with you while you are on call.
The course also allowed participants to meet other new radiology trainees who were facing exactly the same worries about starting on call. It also served as a reminder that as a radiology trainee you are never on your own: the consultant is only a telephone call away. The learning is in recognising the limits of your knowledge and knowing when to pick up the phone.
Competing interests: None declared.
Fiona Pathiraja specialist registrar, radiology
London Deanery, London, UK
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