The essential guide for new radiology trainees
Firstly, congratulations on getting a specialty training post!
You’ve entered a fantastic and diverse specialty. Working as a radiology ST1 will be exciting, however it can be a steep learning curve. You may have been a confident and knowledgable doctor on the wards, however when a consultant asks you about a scan all that confidence can suddenly vanish and you quickly feel out of your depth.
That’s why we have provided this essential guide to help you quickly find your feet and give you a head start in training. Here are the essential things to help you get started as an ST1 trainee.
The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR)
Enrolling with the College (RCR)
As a new trainee the first thing you must do is enrol with the College. This is compulsory for all trainees and you must do this before attempting to apply for any FRCR examinations. Once you’ve completed the enrolment formalities you will be sent information about training, examinations and the college will create an ePortfolio account for you.
Trainee welcome day
The RCR holds several ‘Trainee Welcome Days’ for all newly appointed clinical radiology trainees across the UK. These happen in the Autumn time of your ST1 year, with two held in London two held in different national locations outside London. You will normally be expected to attend this (usually with others from your training scheme). The aim is to welcome you to the specialty and explain what the college can do to help and support you. Speakers include College officers, consultants and trainees. It’s a great opportunity to meet other trainees and the day is kept informal and interactive.
The day is free for all attendees, with refreshments and lunch provided. If you wish to register to attend one of the welcome days you should email email@example.com and further information will be sent to you.
The RCR Specialty Training ePortfolio is very similar to the Foundation Programme ePortfolio (if you have used this then you will be very familiar with the RCR ePortfolio). It is where you will log your training activities, assessments and appraisals to allow you to progress through your training. As a new trainee the college will provide you with your own ePortfolio account upon enrolment.
Benefits of RCR membership
There are also many other benefits of membership of the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), some of which are little known about or used. Look at the following list and make the most of whats on offer:
Key RCR benefits
- Complementary subscription to Clinical Radiology journal (print version sent monthly), membership matters publication, free Podcast and quarterly RCR newsletter
- Free membership of the European Society of Radiology (ESR).
Please note this is not automatic. To register free of charge for full ESR membership you must do so via the following RCR website page: https://www.rcr.ac.uk/college/membership/benefits-membership/european-society-radiology-membership
- Free membership of the Korean Society of Radiology (KSR).
Please note this is not automatic. To register free of charge for KSR membership you must do so via the following link: http://www.radiology.or.kr/eng/
- 20% discount on joining the Academy of Medical Educators
- 20% discount on medicine books from Oxford University Press, 20% discount on books from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and 25% discount on books from Elsevier
- Discounts for RCR events and access to RCR eLearning. Free access to iRefer radiology referral guidelines. Savings on insurance, hotel rooms, gym and travel discounts for members at RCR Life
- Free WiFi, coffee and tea in the Member’s Room at the RCR in London
Passing the First FRCR exam
Whilst you will have many years to learn radiology, you’ll only have a short time to learn your anatomy and physics before the First FRCR exam. You’ll be expected to take this (and pass) by the end of the first year. To help you, Radiology Cafe have put together a number of resources.
Signing up for the exam
You have to be a registered user on the RCR website before you can apply to take the First FRCR exam. Register by enrolling with the College. Once registered you need to log in and apply online for the examination sitting (post & email applications are no longer accepted). Every year there are always a few candidates that fail or forget to register for the exam so remember to make this a priority.
Essential books for ST1
We feel there are two books no ST1 should live without. These two books cover the essential anatomy and physics to help you prepare for the First FRCR exam. The first is Weir’s Imaging Atlas of Human Anatomy, a complete radiology anatomy atlas and essential for revising the anatomy component of the exam. The second is the FRCR Physics Notes, a set of beautiful notes specifically for ST1 trainees explaining even the most complicated concept in an easy-to-follow way.
Of course, there are many other excellent books that are useful for revision and these should be considered in conjunction with the above two books when preparing for the exam. These can be found on the First FRCR exam page alongside other hints and tips for taking the exam.
Your radiology department may have copies of many of these titles and other registrars will have lots of great advice on other books they found useful. Ask nicely and they may lend or sell old copies of their books.
Essential e-learning for ST1
The RCR has an excellent award winning e-learning resource called the Radiology – Integrated Training Initiative (or R-ITI for short). This is free for anyone with an NHS email address and you can register here to access it: http://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/radiology/how-to-access/
The R-ITI breaks down the radiology curriculum into 15 modules and consists of around 750 bite-sized e-learning sessions. It is a great learning resource and in particular the physics exam is based on the R-ITI content, so you’d be crazy not to at least take a look at it for physics revision.
Essential revision resources for ST1
So where can you find the best revision resources for the first FRCR exam? There’s many great revision resources out there, however the best anatomy mock exams and physics notes can be found at Radiology Cafe, and best of all, they’re free! Take a look…
Apart from the exam specific books and resources above there are also some general radiology textbooks that we recommend to you as you start out on your radiology training. We list six here that we think are pretty damn good.
Ask any radiologist and they will tell you that ‘Grainger & Allison’s Diagnostic Radiology’, is a great text giving an overview of the whole of radiology. We, however recommend the newer ‘Essentials’ edition which has received excellent feedback and will give you a good start in radiology. The other big textbook we recommend is ‘Fundamentals of Diagnostic Radiology’ by Brant and Helms, again covering most topics and a good reference text for the FRCR 2A exam. We recommend one or the other, but you probably don’t need both!
The other two books included below are quite simply excellent and will be all you need when learning CXR and limb plain radiograph interpretation as a radiology trainee. They are ‘Accident & Emergency Radiology: A Survival Guide’ and ‘The Chest X-ray: A Survival Guide’. If we were to recommend one book from these four to read, it would be the CXR book as it will put you miles ahead of your peers, if you read it early on, and help you interpret one of the most common investigations we perform. Here’s the links:
Ultrasound and CT
Most trainees do not realise they can claim £100’s back in tax relief on professional fees and subscriptions. If you are a UK taxpayer and don’t claim then you are literally throwing money away!
Basically, when you pay fees and subscriptions to organisations such as the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) or the General Medical Council (GMC) you will also be paying tax on those fees. You may be able to claim tax relief on these payments, thereby reducing the cost of your subscription fee. Most tax reliefs usually go unclaimed because it is your own responsibility to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about these payments.
Here are some of the organisations you can claim tax relief on:
- The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR)
- General Medical Council (GMC)
- British Medical Association (BMA)
- British Institute of Radiology (BIR)
- Medical Defence Union (MDU)
- Medical Protection Society (MPS)
- and more…
For more information on how to claim, visit our page on Money and tax saving tips for trainees.
Joining radiological societies for free
As a radiology trainee you can join the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) for free! The main benefit is free registration for the RSNA annual meeting in Chicago each year! This is one of the largest medical conferences in the world. You will also get a complementary subscription to the Radiology and RadioGraphics journals (see The best journals), which you can access online for free.
As a trainee member of the Royal College of Radiologists you can also join the European Society of Radiology (ESR) for free by virtue of their UK membership with the RCR. Benefits include reduced registration fees for the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) and free electronic access to the journal European Radiology. Please note this is not automatic. To register free of charge for full ESR membership you must do so via the following RCR website page.
The best radiology journals
There are many radiology journals out there, however we feel there are three that stand out from the rest:
- Radiographics – We think the best education journal in radiology from RSNA. Articles address topics such as imaging features of a disease or group of diseases. The review articles from Radiographics are great for for those tricky on-call scans.
- Clinical Radiology – The RCR’s own journal. You’ll receive this free each month.
- Radiology – High quality radiology research from RSNA (Radiological Society of North America)
If you are relocating for your ST1, or your location of employment changes during your training, you will be eligible to claim income tax exempt expenses from your employer.
Legal fees, removals charges and costs to visit and source new accommodation may all qualify. If you decide not to move but travel further instead, then you can claim mileage in the place of relocation expenses if it’s a reasonable distance to commute. If you have already claimed at any other point in your training then you may have reached your maximum allowance. Check with your deanery, as you may be allowed to make a second claim if you’re below the threshold. You need to keep all quotations and receipts for the purposes of your claim.
More information is available from
- BMA https://www.bma.org.uk/pay-and-contracts/pay/expenses/expenses-for-junior-doctors-relocating-for-work
- HMRC https://www.gov.uk/expenses-and-benefits-relocation
- Health Education England https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/doctors-training/enhancing-junior-doctors-working-lives/funding-arrangements-payment-relocation-expenses
Clinical radiology is a relatively small community and we always try to support each other. You will be given an educational and clinical supervisor, however it is usually worthwhile to also seek out a mentor or someone you can go to with any queries. This could even be be a more senior trainee – they will have recently gone through the ST1 year and will be full of useful tips and advice to help you on your journey.
Junior Radiologists’ Forum (JRF)
The Junior Radiologists’ Forum (JRF) is an elected body of trainees consisting of one trainee from every training scheme in the UK along with national representatives of less than full-time and academic trainees. They represent the interests of all clinical radiology trainees within the College and ensure involvement of trainees in the College’s work. The JRF acts as a source of support, resources and guidance and provides a route of communication between trainees and the RCR. To find out more about what the JRF do, get in touch with your local JRF representative.
- Guidance for training (RCR) https://www.rcr.ac.uk/clinical-radiology/specialty-training/guidance-training
- Trainee induction pack (RCR JRF) https://www.rcr.ac.uk/clinical-radiology/specialty-training/resources-trainees/trainee-introduction-pack
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