The radiology residency programs at Johns Hopkins, which offer the most advanced medical imaging facilities and unparalleled patient care and research opportunities, draw top medical school graduates from around the world.
Charged with maintaining the residency programs’ excellence are the two directors, Brian Holly, M.D., who heads the interventional radiology residency, and Lilja Solnes, M.D., who leads the diagnostic radiology residency.
This year, the department matched a first class of three residents who are combining both fields to complete a dual interventional radiology/diagnostic radiology program. “They are currently completing their intern year of training and will begin their IR/DR residency in July 2020. The first graduating class of IR/DR residents, who were transitioned from the DR residency program, will complete their training in June of 2021,” says Holly.
In the interventional radiology program, radiologists learn to use advanced medical imaging to treat patients with a range of illnesses, from cancer to atherosclerosis to sports injury. The program is intensive and far-reaching, notes Holly. “We do everything from draining a fluid collection to killing a tumor. It’s a great learning environment but one that is changing too,” he says.
Traditionally, he says, would-be interventional radiologists would complete a one-year internship after medical school, followed by a four-year residency in diagnostic radiology, capped by a one-year fellowship in interventional radiology.
With all the advances in interventional radiology, Holly says, that model is no longer adequate: There is too much to learn in one year of fellowship training.
So, now at Johns Hopkins — as at many other academic medical centers — the interventional radiology program comprises three years of diagnostic radiology and two years of interventional radiology. The advantage for residents is that at the end, they are board certified in both diagnostic and interventional radiology.
“All interventional radiologists get a dual certificate,” Holly says.
Solnes says that the distinguishing feature of Johns Hopkins’ radiology programs is that they are heavily focused on hands-on opportunities to complement more traditional didactic educational experiences.
This sort of intensive program, she notes, is well-suited to the high caliber of residents who Johns Hopkins regularly attracts. They demand a rigorous program that will prepare them for leadership.
Residents in the Johns Hopkins diagnostic radiology program enjoy access to all the latest cutting-edge equipment, and they learn from and work beside some of the world’s best radiologists to sharpen their skills in a fast-paced environment that sees more than its share of rare conditions.
One example of the unique opportunities at Johns Hopkins, Solnes says, is the growing integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into diagnostic radiology. Increasingly, radiologists and computer scientists are teaming up to develop algorithms that assist human specialists in combing images, spotting patterns and making connections that are transforming the field.
In one ambitious collaboration dubbed the Felix Project, for example, Johns Hopkins radiologists are working closely with oncologists and computer scientists to catch pancreatic cancers very early, when they’re still operable. Their final product will be a software program that analyzes CT images and flags suspicious areas. It won’t replace the radiologist but will be like always having an expert consultant on hand.