By Meghan Edwards
As you may know, the AIRP is host to a widely diverse population of students who travel not only from the distant corners of the United States, but from all across the world. Each year, about 20 percent of the AIRP student body is comprised of international students, with the majority coming from Canada and Brazil. Many attendees also hail from countries in Europe and the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia. AIRP faculty also transverse the globe to teach lectures internationally, visiting societies such as the Royal College of Radiologists of Thailand.
Traveling is difficult and expensive; the days are long and tiring, and your destination could be in a world entirely alien from what you are used to. So why make the commitment to travel half way around the world in the name of radiology?
Turns out, it’s all about partnerships. Carl Williams, course administrator for the AIRP, says, “Even though we live across borders, as doctors we are all seeking the same goal. I think helping attendees better understand more complicated imaging is a duty of all radiologists — whether they visit us or we come to them.” Rita Longuino, MD, an international AIRP alumna from São Paulo, Brazil, feels similarly. “One of the reasons I attended AIRP was because I felt that meeting radiologists from around the globe would be fascinating for me,” she says.
Partnerships usually involve some sort of exchange, and the same is true of the relationships made at AIRP. Williams believes that the exchange of information facilitated within the halls of the AFI Theater and at societies abroad is invaluable because radiology itself is global. “It’s not confined to the United States,” he says. He believes if radiologic-pathologic correlation was adopted more broadly through AIRP’s efforts, then imaging diagnoses might be achieved more quickly and easily around the world as well. “It’s important to use all the tools you can to make sure that you make the best diagnosis. AIRP’s radiologic pathology course is the only one of its kind, so students should attend because when you’re dealing with patient lives, you want to do anything you can to increase your chances of being accurate,” says Williams.
Longuino felt the same when she first heard about AIRP: “I thought the course would provide me with a great opportunity to discover how radiology is practiced in the United States.” She adds, “It’s important for residents to meet other residents. There are so many students from different countries, with different kinds of health care systems, that it’s a good idea to step into their shoes for a bit and think about what their experience as a resident is like.”
The partnerships and friendships that you can make also help smooth bumps along the way. Whether you are traveling tens of miles or hundreds, making the transition to a world immersed in lecture and learning can be a challenge. For international students, the transition may be even more significant, says Williams. “The emphasis on physical contact is a shock for some of our students. In Thailand, for example, they bow more than shaking hands. We’re also much more vocal over here.” Yet for Longuino, the experience was easy. “I never had any problems,” she says. “When I remember AIRP, I think about how reachable and nice everyone was.”
And perhaps most importantly, the relationships that you foster last much longer than any jet lag. “I’m still in contact with a lot of the other residents I met,” notes Longuino. Because Williams travels the globe to recruit students, his long-lasting network is enormous. When he goes to a meeting abroad, he sends out emails to former students, who always show up for a chat or a helpful word. “They help me speak to some of the other students,” he notes. “They share their positive experiences, which helps encourage others to try it for themselves.”