We would like to welcome you to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Core Clerkship in Radiology. This is an exciting time in your professional development. We hope that this clerkship will not only challenge you but will also inspire you.
Radiology provides an excellent introduction to the thought processes and problem-solving skills you will need through the upcoming year. This is especially true for those of you whose clerkship precedes medicine and surgery. Imaging tells a story in which the course of a patient’s illness can be followed over time, from the initial clinical presentation. Radiology helps put that picture together into a coherent whole in a time-efficient manner. This “bigger picture” can be difficult to synthesize when confronting the immediate problems in the “heat of battle” of the wards. When you consult a radiologist, you should leave not only with the answer to your immediate question, but also with a view of how this discussion fits into the broader picture of a patient’s problem, and with more ideas on how to proceed with management.
We hope that you will come away from your radiology clerkship with a better understanding that there is no such thing as a radiology “read,” which suggests a fixed or reproducible quantity, e.g. the hematocrit. You will find that radiologists must draw on a deep knowledge of anatomy, pathology, pathophysiology, embryology, physics, and clinical management to arrive not at “reads” but at judgements.
That’s why you will be spending time in observation, down in the “trenches of radiology.” You will observe the day-to-day workings of chest, abdominal, musculoskeletal, and neurologic radiology. You will see that, unlike the classic cases we review in tutorial, imaging of real-life patients is messy. They simply don’t read the book! You will see the dynamic interactions between the referring physician/surgeon and the radiologist, as, hopefully, they work as a team in helping patients get well.
Thank you and we hope that you have a great rotation!