So last night I stayed later than usual after work to prepare for an interdepartmental conference that I will be giving next Friday before I fly out that night to attend the CAP Residents Forum and Annual Meeting. A radiology resident and I will be presenting two cases together to correlate their radiology and pathology, two specialties that have much in common, at least on the surface.
Both radiologists and pathologists, at least pre-ACA era and except for subspecializations like interventional radiology and transfusion medicine, do not often interact with patients directly. Therefore, both fields rely heavily on clinical observations and notes written by the primary care doctors caring for “their” patients. Both also require a broad knowledge of disease differentials, and frequently, understanding the prognostic and treatment considerations of the disorder under examination even though they are not involved in direct care of the patient. Additionally, both fields require good communication with primary care physicians.
Senior radiology residents attend a month-long course correlating radiology with the corresponding pathophysiology of diseases at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) now known as the American Institute for Radiologic Pathology (AIRP). I remember during medical school trying to set up an elective at what was then called AFIP but was not able to since it is only open to radiology residents.
At both my previous and current institution, the “rads-path conference” as it is affectionately called, is informal and driven by the radiology department in terms of case choices. It’s meant to be a learning experience but generally the only pathology residents who attend are the one(s) presenting while all the radiology residents available have to attend. Seems somewhat ironic that the learning is mostly one-sided, and it’s bad that our two departments don’t do this more as a true inter-departmental conference.
Pathology and radiology are two fields that also often get left out when publications are written even though our final diagnoses, and sometimes, even images are used within publication submissions. As residents in these fields, we should make an active effort to interact with our primary care counterparts frequently. We should do this not only to be included in such scholarly endeavors but also to show that we are also equal members of the patient care team and are not forgotten when treatment discussions take place.
It also happens with tumor boards as well that most of the choice of cases and topics for discussion come from the non-pathology department. So what are your opinions on how we should interact with other departments for patient care discussions and inter-departmental conferences?
-Betty Chung, DO, MPH, MA is a third year resident physician at Rutgers – Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.