Countless aspects play into an impactful education and training experience, including accessibility and representation. Undergraduate faculty from the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine can attest to the role these pillars play in a student’s training experience not only during a pandemic but within an area of medicine often overlooked.
Since 1939, the Indiana Society of Radiologic Technologists (ISRT) has gathered every October for a statewide conference. The event includes two days of education and engagement opportunities for medical imaging and radiation therapy technologists and students throughout the state. As the pandemic took center stage last year, many in the radiology community feared the event would be canceled. That’s when faculty members of the IU School of Medicine’s Radiologic and Imaging Sciences undergraduate program volunteered for the task.
“I remember when I was a technology student,” said Ashley Marshall, assistant professor of clinical radiologic and imaging sciences, co-organizer of this year’s event and president-elect of the ISRT. “Attending the annual ISRT conference was my first experience meeting experts in my field. By participating, I was able to see a bigger world of radiology I hadn’t been exposed to. I didn’t want our students to miss the opportunity to see the representation of professional radiology technologists.”
As spring 2020 kicked into gear and more in-person events switched to virtual, the IU School of Medicine radiologic and imaging sciences undergraduate program faculty were able to organize and reimagine the 2020 ISRT Conference with added support from IU Expand, which was used as the platform host for the event.
“This was an exciting partnership to make,” said Dina Peterson. Peterson, assistant professor of clinical radiologic and imaging sciences and education chair for the 2020 ISRT Conference, helped design the event, ensuring creativity was a key ingredient. “My passion is online education, so it was exciting to develop a space for technologists and students across the country to gather and be able to have ownership in their education.”
The 2020 ISRT Conference thrived as it was transformed from a statewide event to a multi-month virtual opportunity, enabling more technologists and students to access lectures, presentations, workshops and its famous annual student quiz bowl competition. Additionally, not only was the event longer, but participation opened nationally, allowing more than 160 students and professionals across the country to participate and learn from radiology experts in Indiana.
“It was vital for us to ensure this event occurred,” Marshall said. “Radiologic technologists play a crucial role in health care. For every radiologist, there are up to 30 radiologic technologists creating diagnostic images they need to make formal diagnoses. Canceling this event would limit technologists and students throughout the state from collaboration, education, and professional involvement opportunities they need and deserve.”
From learning how to navigate a new virtual platform and leading committees to create engaging spaces for participants to learn— radiologic and imaging sciences undergraduate faculty played a key role in the event’s success. Without their enthusiasm, determination and spirit the traditionally held in-person event certainly would have been canceled. Fortunately, the success of this year’s event has set fuel for more to come.
Learn more about the Radiologic and Imaging Sciences Undergraduate Programs at IU School of Medicine.