RSNA Blog: The real RSNA essentials course—The story behind the image


One of the most important lessons I have learned as a repeat attendee to RSNA is to pre-register for the always popular resident filled essentials and case-based review courses. Without that long ream of pre-printed coupons, your shot of getting an actual seat in the S100 lecture hall is close to zero. With my stack in one hand, and a resident/fellow subspecialty content brochure in the other hand, I navigated my first few days of RSNA seamlessly, like a car with an ez-pass whizzing by a long line of people on the cash line, thinking that I was attending all the offerings that would be most important for me as a resident.

Despite all my preparation, on Tuesday afternoon, I found myself sitting in the Arie Crown Theater, listening to a speaker who was not listed in the resident/fellow brochure whose lesson was far more essential than any of the courses I pre-registered for. That speaker was Dr. Richard Gunderman, who was delivering the annual oration entitled, "The Story Behind the Image."

In his highly inspiring oration, Dr. Gunderman used the story of a case he had as a resident involving a head CT, which happened to be that of Dr. Charles Huggins, a urologist whose research led to a Nobel Prize involving the role of hormones and malignancy. Though the story itself was inspiring on its own merits, Dr. Gunderman's points were what truly stuck with me.

He stressed the fact that our role as radiologists is to bridge the gap between the visible and the invisible within the patient, and that to do that, we need to look beyond the pixels on our screens. To truly do the most good for our patients, Dr. Gunderman stressed understanding their stories, to help ultimately be able to contribute the most we can towards their care.  

The resident review courses at RSNA are well-attended for good reason as they are very high quality lectures delivered by world experts in their field and as educators. Despite this, as residents we sit in lectures and review sessions for a good portion of our workdays. Much of what is delivered in the review sessions at this conference is not new material, merely the same material we have already seen, delivered in another fashion. For me, the real benefit of a conference like this is hearing the inspiring speakers like Dr. Gunderman, who help rekindle the passion within all of us and remind us why we became physicians and radiologists in the first place. Seek them out as their lessons will truly impact you beyond helping you get through a two-day visit to Louisville.




Jonathan Flug, MD, is a senior radiology resident at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. Flug provided valuable input into “Who is the Radiologist of the Future,” in the Nov. issue of Health Imaging.