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Thomas Dina, M.D., (bottom row, second from left) with Radiology residents (top row, from left) James Godchaux, M.D., Daniel Scanga, M.D., Mark Reese, M.D., John Ross, M.D., Alan Morimoto, M.D., (bottom row, from left) Orlin Hopper, M.D., Shannon Amonette, M.D., and Leslie Tutt, M.D.

Radiology resident program once again ranked as top program in the nation

BY: DOUG CAMPBELL

3/11/2005 - Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Radiology residents are on a hot streak, one that's lasted a remarkable eight years.

The program has once again been ranked number one out of 190 such programs in the nation by the American Board of Radiology. The ranking reflects the residents' success at the oral board examinations, a grueling 11-part test of knowledge and skill.

The oral exams, held each June, are the third and final part of the ABR exam. These are taken in the fourth year. The first part is a written physics exam normally taken in the second year. The second is a clinical exam usually taken in the third year.

To be ranked number one, a program must go five years without a resident failing outright or conditioning (failing three or fewer parts, which requires being re-tested on those parts).

VUMC's Radiology Resident Program averages seven participants per year and until last year, the test consisted of 10 parts, so during this run Radiology residents have taken nearly 860 oral exams without so much as even a slight misstep.

“Not a single resident has failed or conditioned even one of those exams,” said Thomas S. Dina, M.D., associate professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and director of the department's residency training program. “That's pretty remarkable.”

Martin P. Sandler, M.D., Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and chair of the Department, said the program's success can be attributed to a variety of factors.

“A core pillar of what this department does is education; it's a fundamental reason for being here. We've increased patient volumes and significantly grown our research studies over the past five years, but we've never sacrificed education. Another factor is the prestige of Vanderbilt and the strength of this department, which allows us to be selective as to who we take in to the residency program.

“And a lot is very dependent on Dr. Dina, who is an incredible advocate for the program and he's the one who makes sure no corners are cut and that the proper resources are made available to support the program,” Sandler said.

The residency program's strong showing at the oral boards has taken on a self-perpetuating life of its own by helping to attract top-tier applicants, which is a benefit to the department and the Medical Center, Dina said.

“When we talk to residency applicants late in the interview season, they've already been talking to other applicants about various programs, and we're finding out that these applicants are hearing nothing but great things about us.

“The word out on the applicant 'trail' is that the residents at Vanderbilt are happy, they do well and they are taught well,” Dina said.

This, in turn, is helping to diversify the pool of applicants to the program.

“We're getting a more diversified program now, which is making us stronger,” Sandler said.

“We've also diversified our opportunities for residents so they can get a broader experience. It's an exciting time. This has become a very sought-after residency by Vanderbilt medical students, which is particularly gratifying. It's very competitive and people want to come to this program and if you get good residents, they help attract other good residents.”

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