Radiologists: Physiology Teachers of Tomorrow?

February 4, 2011

Showing medical students a pair of contrasting normal and pathophysiology radiological cases, can make physiology more relevant and provide active learning, according to an article published in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

A picture is worth a thousand words - especially in radiology.

Showing medical students a pair of contrasting normal and pathophysiology radiological cases, can make physiology more relevant and provide active learning, according to an article published in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Medical schools, therefore, should look to radiologists to help teach physiology. The authors don’t propose an overhaul of the physiology curriculum, but rather integrating more radiologists and actual case studies.

“We believe that radiology is poised to make a major contribution to the teaching of physiology, comparable to that which it is making in a number of institutions in anatomy, because it enables students directly to visualize physiologic processes in the living human patient,” said co-author Richard B. Gunderman, M.D. “Verbal descriptions, mathematical equations, and diagrams all have a role to play, but the radiologic images help bring the physiology to life for the students, making the material both more engaging and more memorable.”

In the article, the authors provide examples of how using pairs of radiological images can demonstrate four physiological principles applicable to all organ systems, including homeostasis, biological energy use, structure-function relationships and communication between cells and systems.

“It is one thing to calculate cardiac ejection fractions," the authors noted in the article, "But quite another to actually view the change in chamber area and volume throughout the cardiac cycle.”