ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Making the Grade

For 15 years, ACR’s Case in Point has brought radiologists fresh, interesting cases and CME opportunities.
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CiP gives younger submitters a sense of what’s involved in a case and how it should be put together to ensure publication.

—CiP Editor-in-Chief Kitt Shaffer, MD, PhD, FACR
May 28, 2020

Fifteen years ago, several radiologists had a great idea: create a case-based educational tool that was accessible to physicians at every level, from medical students to the seasoned radiologist. After attempts at other institutions, Case in Point (CiP) landed at the ACR, where it has flourished. Thousands of submissions, and thousands of cases and CME credits later, CiP continues to bring new and exciting cases to your inbox. Why has CiP flourished for so long? Here are five reasons:

  1. CiP is flexible. CiP cases focus on a variety of topics and formats, including the issues radiologists might see every day in the reading rooms — as well as more complicated topics and aspects of patient care, such as communication. “No case is cookie cutter,” says CiP Editor-in-Chief Kitt Shaffer, MD, PhD, FACR, professor of radiology at Boston University Medical Center. “Each one has a different level of interactivity and appeals to every type of reader.” What’s more, the CiP editors and staff keep up with the times. CiP was among the first online teaching tools to feature COVID-19 cases. Aware of the growing need for coronavirus-related content, CiP staff solicited cases from ACR members and worked around the clock to fast track them so that radiologists could start becoming familiar with the clinical presentation of the virus. While users can sign up for the case-of-the-day email, they can also access the substantial archival case collection.
  2. CiP is realistic. One of CiP’s main goals is to emulate cases that radiologists might see each day in their practice. Each case features a brief history, image-based questions, differential diagnoses, and discussions of the diagnosis. “We try to design cases so that they walk radiologists through the case as it was presented, from presentation to diagnosis and follow-up,” says Shaffer. “I think that’s very attractive to both practicing radiologists as well as residents.”
  3. CiP is an effective teaching tool. One of Shaffer’s favorite things about CiP is that it comes in easily digestible bites of information. Education and CME credits are difficult enough to obtain during a radiologist’s busy day; CiP helps fit it in. And as users move through the daily cases, the program can provide feedback on performance over time.
    With over 4,200 cases, CiP also covers a variety of topics. Michael J. Opatowsky, MD, MBA, a neuroradiologist with Baylor University Medical Center and a CiP editor, says he finds it useful to look at cases in other specialty areas so that he can stay up to date. He adds that CiP’s archival tool has been helpful during daily readout sessions. “I’m often able to tell my medical students, residents, and fellows about a case I’ve seen on CiP and refer them to the archives for more content that helps them understand a particular diagnosis,” he says.
  4. CiP is an entry point for publication. Anyone — from medical students to established radiologists — can submit a case. From there, the case is peer reviewed by a panel of radiologists for accuracy, utility, and image quality. According to Shaffer, “It’s a great opportunity for medical students and residents to see the publication process from beginning to end. CiP gives younger submitters a sense of what’s involved in a case and how it should be put together to ensure publication. They have to think about teaching points and about the evolution of the case. Given enough guidance, it’s easy and it’s a positive first experience with publishing.” Opatowsky adds, “By the time residents at my institution complete their training, most of them have published at least one CiP case.”
  5. CiP is always looking to the future. Over the years, CiP editors have worked hard to ensure that the program meets all its users’ needs, including creating a searchable archive and lexicon — as well as more substantial references and resources. But editors aren’t resting on their laurels. “We’re looking into more streamlined and robust ways to submit case material so that publication time is decreased,” says Shaffer. “We’re always thinking of ways to improve the program for our users.”
Author Meghan Edwards, freelance writer, ACR Press