On Tuesday afternoon, Simone Montoya, MD, a radiology resident at the University of Rochester School of Medicine (URMC), unveiled the details of an initiative to increase the availability of radiology services in Zambia, Africa and invited radiologists to become involved in the project.
"A Portable Radiology Curriculum for Training, Evaluating and Retaining Radiologists in Africa (PRACTERRA) is a U.S. radiology resident-driven project designed to support the training of radiologists in resource-limited countries. The project is funded by a 2018 Derek Harwood-Nash International Education Scholar Grant through the RSNA Research & Education Foundation.
Dr. Montoya said 66 percent of the world's population lacks access to diagnostic imaging. Zambia, a country just slightly larger than Texas, has 14 CT scanners and four MRI units, but just two radiologists to serve 17.6 million residents.
"The hardware is available, but what's lacking are doctors and training," she said.
Dr. Montoya and other URMC residents are developing the PRACTERRA web-based modular curriculum, which will initially be offered to 12 radiology postgraduates per year from Lusaka APEX Medical University. The initiative is a collaboration between URMC, Lusaka APEX Medical University and the Zambian Ministry of Health.
"PRACTERRA will be a how-to guide for young radiologists that is in tune with the pathologies of Sub-Saharan Africa,"Dr. Montoya said. "It will help teach postgraduates how to interpret and report on imaging studies, communicate with clinical colleagues and, ultimately, how to integrate radiology into the local health care system."
The curriculum also includes weekly web conferences with U.S. residents for case discussion, lectures and case reviews.
Dr. Montoya's mentor, Michael Potchen, MD, professor of imaging services at URMC, has been working for more than a decade to advance radiologic training in Zambia.
"This country needs a sustainable program to train Zambian radiologists who can in turn train the next generation," said Dr. Potchen. "But first we need to train this initial cohort and build out the PRACTERRA curriculum."
"We're looking for more people to get involved," Dr. Montoya added. "We have 500 DICOM case studies but we need more normal and relevant pathologies, along with videotaped lectures and written support materials. We can take DICOM files, PDFs and videos."
Dr. Montoya and two other residents will spend January in Lusaka to continue developing the curriculum and collecting local cases.
Once the team has completed and obtained proof-of-concept for the program, URMC plans to make the web-based curriculum available free of charge to other resource-limited countries looking to train local radiologists.