Radiological students in simulation
Radiological technology students, such as these ones, at the Michener Institute of Education, can look forward to accessing a new in-house digital image library with complete X-ray images from UHN hospitals. (Photo: UHN)

Faculty and students at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN will soon have access to a secure, de-identified digital image bank with complete X-ray procedures that reflect the reality of clinical practice.

Through a partnership with the Joint Department of Medical Imaging (JDMI), Michener's radiological technology faculty and students will have access to this digital image library for their upcoming winter semester. The image bank will enhance the program's current host of teaching resources.

In the past, the program faculty largely used film-based images and augmented the library with images from publishers and the Internet.

"While film and digital images can be used for fundamental X-ray assessments, digitally-acquired images can highlight different techniques and considerations for students," says Alex Gontar, Professor of Radiological Technology at Michener.

When capturing X-ray images of various areas of the body, several images must be taken to incorporate different angles and factors.

"[Images found online] often contain single images or focus on just the pathology instead of showing a full procedure," Professor Gontar says. "The new digital image bank contains full studies of the same patient, providing students with a greater understanding of how procedures, positioning, and pathology patterns are explored."

UHN Digital was instrumental in leading the collaboration across JDMI, Michener, UHN Privacy and Legal Affairs. To ensure the privacy and safety of all patients and their medical images, these teams implemented proper de-identifying processes for long-term student and faculty use.

The image bank illustrates UHN Digital's commitment to collaboration in support of clinical and educational objectives.

Working together to support medical imaging education at UHN

"This is another great example of how our teams are enabling a strong partnership between JDMI and Michener," says Leon Goonaratne, Senior Director for Digital JDMI and Cardiac. "We want to continue to enrich the education of Medical Radiation Technologists and provide students with the tools to thrive in this rapidly advancing digital era."

Today, students in this field have limited opportunities to capture X-ray images before entering the clinical setting. To avoid unnecessary radiation exposure while learning about patient positioning for X-rays, students practice with role-playing scenarios or by analyzing lab images.

Students can also capture sample X-ray images through Michener labs using mannequins, but these are heavy, hard to position and don't fully reflect human anatomy.

"With the resources available, Michener has always excelled at teaching medical imaging principles," says Paul Cornacchione, Senior Director of Imaging Operations at JDMI. "The digital image bank brings students closer to the clinical environment.

"With film, you may not have the same appreciation for how images look nowadays. This database will show students real things they will encounter in this field – real pathologies, real cases from our workplace."

These teams will continue to work together and expand the collection of images to other procedures, including ultrasound and MRI.

"This project gave us all an opportunity to work collaboratively at UHN to create better healthcare specialists," Paul adds. "Through this partnership, we have and will continue to discuss how we can now help our students, enhance our curriculum and improve the ways we train health professionals." ​​

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