JACR: Survey shows radiology education going mobile

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Today’s residents have seen the future of radiology education, and it is mobile. A survey of radiology residents across the U.S. has shown that they spend nearly an equal amount of time learning from printed textbooks as they do from online or electronic resources, and benefits to study time could be seen by programs incorporating tablet devices, according to research published in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“There is considerable use of online and electronic resources and mobile devices among the current generation of radiology residents,” wrote Aiham C. Korbage, MD, and Harprit S. Bedi, MD, of the department of radiology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. “Tablet technology has the potential to enhance the way radiology is studied and taught."

A total of 308 participants took part in the survey, which was conducted from June 13 to July 5, 2011. Based on 2011 National Resident Matching Program data, the authors estimated the survey’s sample to be about 9 percent of all radiology residents.

Results showed 74 percent of residents owned smart phones, and 37 percent owned a tablet device, with Apple’s iPad owned by 33 percent, by far the leading tablet device. Of those who owned a mobile device, 68 percent used it for studying radiology. iPad owners were more likely to use their device for studying compared with residents who owned other non-iPad devices.

When asked if they would spend more time studying radiology if provided with a mobile tablet device, 81 percent of respondents said yes, according to Korbage and Bedi.

“There are several advantages to mobile devices compared with textbooks,” wrote the authors. “Tablets and other mobile devices obviate the need to carry around journals and bulky textbooks. It also makes it easier to study during travel or at the workstation. This is particularly true as free Wi-Fi connections are becoming more available.”

Many radiology resources which were previously confined to textbooks are now available electronically such as Brant & Helm’s Fundamentals of Diagnostic Radiology and Dahnert’s Radiology Review Manual, according to the authors. Other electronic resources, such as STATdx and the American College of Radiology’s Case in Point were used by more than 60 percent of respondents. “A quick search in Apple's App Store under ‘radiology’ brings up [at least] 65 radiology-specific applications, ranging from books and anatomy atlases to online radiology journals.”

When asked about book funds or education stipends, 14 percent said no funds were provided, 21 percent received less than $400 per year and 65 percent received more than $400 per year. Korbage and Bedi noted that less than half of those who received stipends said the funds could be used on educational electronic devices such as tablets. “Although cost may be a deterrent, providing each resident with a tablet device may prove more cost effective over a four-year residency,” wrote Korbage and Bedi.