The COVID-19 pandemic affected the College’s educational offerings in many ways, including putting a pause on in-person courses at the ACR Education Center in Reston, Va. But with the Education Center having reopened in its original location in September, in-person courses have resumed, and members of the College couldn’t be happier.
“We have been anticipating and planning for the return to in-person courses at the ACR Education Center for over two years,” says Lori Deitte, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR Commission on Publications and Lifelong Learning. “These courses provide an unparalleled, individualized, hands-on experience that simulates real-life image interpretation at the PACS workstation. We have received many testimonials on the value of this experience, and numerous questions asking when the Education Center will return to in-person courses. We are absolutely thrilled to reopen our doors and welcome our members back to this highly valued in-person learning experience.”
It all started in 2007 for the ACR Education Center. Past ACR BOC Chair James H. Thrall, MD, FACR, credits two members with having a big impact in its formation. “Arl Van Moore Jr., MD, FACR, and former ACR CEO Harvey L. Neiman, MD, FACR, asked me to put together a little program statement,” Thrall says. “At the same time, Dr. Neiman worked with the chief financial officer of the College to put together a financial plan for the Education Center. We took the program statement and the financial plan to the BOC, and Dr. Moore presented it. It was overwhelmingly supported. Then Dr. Moore and Dr. Neiman immediately assembled the technology and the people to make it happen.” By 2008, the Education Center opened its doors at the ACR headquarters in Reston.
The Education Center presented a unique opportunity for radiologists to get hands-on experience in what they would be doing in their practices, while having room to grow from trial and error. “At that point in time, most people were getting their education either through attending lectures or through reading papers,” says Daniel Karolyi, MD, PhD, lead for the ACR Education Center Advisory Committee. “The Education Center was meant to be a real-world simulator of what actual practice is, knowing that most radiologists learn best by looking at cases, reviewing cases, and learning from their mistakes. It was meant to be a simulated environment where people could learn from those mistakes without causing any patient harm, and then take those new skills back to their practices.”
The hands-on experience the Education Center provided couldn’t be matched, so when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the spring of 2020, the Education Center, just like every other business around the world, had to adapt. Deitte says the Commission on Publications and Lifelong Learning used this time to step back and analyze how the Education Center operated and how it could adapt to this new environment. When the world began to trend toward remote/virtual education, the Education Center started producing virtual micro-courses. Today those include pre-recorded lectures and faculty case review sessions as well as faculty case review sessions, and full DICOM cases that radiologists can take on their own time to earn CME and SAM credits.
In-person education is vitally important because there are members who enjoy the interaction of the in-person environment with high faculty-to-student ratios.
While these micro-courses were a great alternative during the pandemic, the College knew they weren’t a true substitute to in-person sessions. “In-person education is vitally important because
there are members who enjoy the interaction of the in-person environment with high faculty-to-student ratios,” says ACR CEO William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR. “They get the true simulator
experience of the Education Center, which is unique and, quite frankly, unmatched around the world. It’s a kind of limited didactic course, combined with extensive case-based learning, which is
what radiologists do every day. Allowing them to learn with experts helping to guide them is just a truly unique experience that we’ve missed for several years.”
With the acute days of the pandemic seemingly in the rear-view mirror, the Education Center is back up and running, with exciting plans. The Commission has reviewed surveys regarding the Center and continues to look for ways to augment its offerings.
“We are excited about the future of the Education Center,” Deitte says. “We have access to state-of-the-art technology to further enhance the learning experience. In addition to returning to in-person courses, we plan to continue to offer micro-courses and extended access to the case material. We are committed to listening to our members and adapting to their needs.”
The Education Center provides a lot of opportunities for radiologists, and the College can’t wait to have full classrooms again, Thorwarth says. “We certainly hope everybody will take advantage of the Education Center. Whether you have attended previous courses or not, this is a great new opportunity to advance your knowledge and confidence, thus improving the care you’re able to provide to patients.”