Concentration in Nuclear Medicine: A Great Choice for Fourth-Year Residents
Achieve dual board certification via nuclear subspecialty training within your diagnostic radiology residency.
In 2013, the American Board of Radiology (ABR) restructured its pathway to board certification. Doing away with its oral board certification exam at the end of residency, the ABR divided its examination process into two written exams: the first to be completed during the end of a resident's PGY4 year and the final examination taking place no less than 15 months after residency. This change in the examination timeline resulted in opportunities to redesign the fourth-year radiology curricula. Senior residentsnow have time to pursue focused areas of study prior to beginning their formal post-residency fellowship training. As a result, 81 percent of radiology residency programs now offer "mini-fellowships" to their fourth-year residents. The structuring of these mini-fellowships vary widely from program to program in terms of their available areas of focused study and length of each "selective."
When selecting nuclear medicine as an area of concentration, radiology residents may be afforded a unique opportunity to obtain dual ABR and American Board of Nuclear Medicine (ABNM) board certification. In 2010, the ACGME and ABR increased the allowable total months of concentration in one area of training from 12 to 16. This was accompanied by the 2010 approval of a 16-month nuclear subspecialty training pathway within a standard 48-month ACGME diagnostic radiology residency. Radiology residents at institutions with accredited nuclear medicine fellowship and/or residencies who complete this 16-month pathway are eligible to sit for both boards' certifying exams. As of 2014, 22 percent of eligible diagnostic radiology residencies had adopted this new pathway. Programs are provided flexibility in the design and implementation of the 16-month pathway, as long as all requirements are met.
I was fortunate to participate in a recently implemented pathway for ABNM certification at the University of Southern California while completing my diagnostic radiology residency. Thanks to the dedication of my institution's nuclear medicine department and radiology residency leadership, over the last two years, all four participants in this pathway have achieved ABNM board certification. Trainees have gone on to pursue second fellowships in neuroradiology, and in my case, cardiothoracic imaging and intervention. Gaining dedicated experience in nuclear medicine has been a boon to clinical work and research endeavors, as Dr. Kristina Hoque and I discuss in this Radiology Firing Line podcast:
I hope that more radiology residents will consider pursuing this pathway to dual certification.