Hands-on Physics Education of Residents in Diagnostic Radiology

Jie Zhang, Peter A. Hardy, David J. DiSantis, M. Elizabeth Oates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Rationale and Objectives The American Board of Radiology Core Examination integrates assessment of physics knowledge into its overall testing of clinical radiology, with an emphasis on understanding image quality and artifacts, radiation dose, and patient safety for each modality or subspecialty organ system. Accordingly, achieving a holistic approach to physics education of radiology residents is a huge challenge. The traditional teaching of radiological physics—simply through didactic lectures—was not designed for such a holistic approach. Admittedly, time constraints and clinical demands can make incorporation of physics teaching into clinical practice problematic. We created and implemented a week-long, intensive physics rotation for fledgling radiology residents and evaluated its effectiveness. Materials and Methods The dedicated physics rotation is held for 1 week during the first month of radiology residency. It comprises three components: introductory lectures, hands-on practical clinical physics operations, and observation of clinical image production. A brief introduction of the physics pertinent to each modality is given at the beginning of each session. Hands-on experimental demonstrations are emphasized, receiving the greatest allotment of time. The residents perform experiments such as measuring radiation dose, studying the relationship between patient dose and clinical practice (eg, fluoroscopy technique), investigating the influence of acquisition parameters (kV, mAs) on radiographs, and evaluating image quality using computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, and gamma camera/single-photon emission computed tomography/positron emission tomography phantoms. Quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of the rotation is based on an examination that tests the residents' grasp of basic medical physics concepts along with written course evaluations provided by each resident. Results The pre- and post-rotation tests show that after the physics rotation, the average correct score of 25 questions improved from 13.6 ± 2.4 to 19 ± 1.2. The survey shows that the physics rotation during the first week of residency is favored by all residents and that 1 week's duration is appropriate. All residents are of the opinion that the intensive workshop would benefit them in upcoming clinical rotations. Residents acknowledge becoming more comfortable regarding the use of radiation and providing counsel regarding radiation during pregnancy. Conclusions An immersive, short-duration, clinically oriented physics rotation is well received by new or less experienced radiology trainees, correlates basic physics concepts with their relevance to clinical imaging, and more closely parallels expectations of the American Board of Radiology Core Examination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-681
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Radiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Association of University Radiologists


  • Physics teaching
  • diagnostic radiology
  • education
  • hands-on
  • residents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Hands-on Physics Education of Residents in Diagnostic Radiology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this