May 19, 2021

Online Conferences in a Pandemic World

By Neil K. Jain, DO; Chair, the ACR® Medical Student Subcommittee; PGY1, Integrated-Interventional Radiology Resident, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

The process of navigating medical education is challenging in the pandemic world. Zoom classes and virtual meetings have quickly replaced the traditional style of in-person teaching. Moreover, this transition has seeped into the planning of annual conferences.

As expected, the ACR 2020 Annual Meeting became virtual, creating a challenge for recruiting medical students into radiology. In the past, hundreds of medical students would attend the ACR Annual Meeting to learn about the profession, hear engaging discussions about current policy affecting radiologists, and participate in opportunities to advocate for the field at Capitol Hill. Hoping to recruit medical students and reduce their financial burden, the ACR medical student subcommittee even created scholarships for medical students to attend the Annual Meeting in 2020.

As the year progressed, the ACR medical student subcommittee created a specific “education committee” to address radiology education and recruitment. The twelve-person committee was led by Ryan Morrison, MSII, at Rowan University SOM, and Tonuka (Tina) Chatterjee, MSII, at Meharry Medical College. During the planning phase, we envisioned hosting a virtual medical student conference that would be both educational and engaging. Our enthusiasm to not only build a global platform to educate our peers about radiology but also add a fun interactive component fueled our energy to create the most unique virtual medical student conference.

The 2021 ACR Medical Student Symposium, held on January 23, 2021, was a virtual conference consisting of a lecture series and a radiology-related escape room. Twelve speakers from around the country, both from academic institutions and private practices — spanning all fields of interventional radiology — spent their Saturday with us.

With over 500 registered students and 301 attendees, this symposium became the largest virtual medical student meeting of the year. ACR President Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR, delivered a captivating opening address, setting a welcoming tone to the future generation of interventional radiologists. “Radiology is truly the intersection of technology and humanity,” she said.

Each speaker reiterated the idea that the profession of radiology has a promising future. The day wrapped up with an escape room in which attendees grouped together had to solve radiological puzzles to “escape” the room.

View lecture recordings

The mission of the ACR medical student subcommittee is to engage medical students at the highest degree by educating them to become the next generation of radiologists and advocates of the field. The 2021 ACR Medical Student Symposium was a huge success and will continue to be one of our flagship events each year.