Silver Lining for Former AFIP Course

In 2005, Congress and the US Department of Defense convened to consider the fifth Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) proposal, a process that first took place in 1988. The purpose of the realignment is to remove and consolidate excess military installations. Normally, this process wouldn’t seriously affect the medical imaging field, but one of the casualties of the most recent BRAC initiative was the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which for years had housed the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) Radiologic-Pathology Correlation Course.

The first AIRP course took place on January 24.

With the imminent closure of the course’s host location, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the American Institute for Radiologic Pathology (AIRP) both acknowledged the need to continue the vital educational program. As such, they decided to continue the program—and were able to maintain the entire existing faculty—at a new location: the American Film Institute Silver Theater in downtown Silver Spring, Md.

“There was a great deal of concern among the radiology residency programs around the country, and even internationally, that this great resource for training future radiologists was going to end,” said Ron Freedman, COO, AIRP, ACR assistant executive director. “There had been a tradition of radiology residents since the 1960s to attend the AFIP as part of their residency experience. With the potential end of this, there was a lot of concern among the residency programs.

“The American College of Radiology felt that we needed to do something to make sure that this did not come to an end. So we made a decision early in 2010, after talking to the folks at AFIP, that we would step into the fray and save the Radiologic-Pathology Correlation Course. We wanted to make sure that there was no gap and that it continued. We have successfully been able to achieve that goal by launching the first course on January 24 of this year,” he said.

The AIRP course, as it always has, covers eight areas: breast, chest, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear, and pediatric. Each organ system track boasts multiple educational sessions and presenters. Over the course of the program’s 4 weeks, Freedman estimates that attendees experience upwards of 160 hours of medical education.

“It is unique in that it really provides unequaled training to radiology residents, fellows, and practicing radiologists by helping them understand the diagnosis of disease as well as the pathological basis for that disease from all organ systems and all imaging modalities,” said Freedman. “It is unique in that there is no other place anywhere in the world, that we are aware of, where radiologists can get training that is this intensive, and covers these organ systems—all organ systems and imaging modalities—as well as provides the correlation between the imaging and the pathology of disease.”

The new facility is only a few miles from where the AFIP course was held, enabling the AIRP to maintain the course’s attendance levels. In fact, the Silver Theater has a capacity that is almost 50% larger than the Walter Reed Army Medical Center: 400 seats and 288 seats, respectively. The extra space isn’t just for show, either. Freedman says that not only has the attendance for the currently running January course surpassed last year’s, but the upcoming course in March already has the highest number of registrants in the Radiologic-Pathology Correlation Course’s history. This is due not only to the popularity of the course domestically, but also to a growing interest in it from international markets.

“We have seen a significant increase in international residents wanting to attend this course,” Freedman said. “In this first class, about 20% of the attendees are international residents. We have a large number of Canadian residents, but we have residents from 20 foreign countries in our first class. That number is growing.”

—Chris Gaerig