Learning how to interpret chest x-rays when you start your clinical rotations is essential. Most medical students learn “on the job” in a haphazard way. Often times it’s by seeing only abnormal x-ray films, and going through them with an intern. A more systematic method of learning such a critical skill is necessary.
You will need to know how to interpret chest x-rays for almost every single rotation in your third year, and it’s a skill you must be proficient in when graduating from medical school. For almost all hospitals, chest x-rays that are not deemed “urgent”, are not read overnight, and when you are working overnight as an intern July 1st, you need to be able to make actionable decisions based on your interpretation of the film.
Is the feeding tube in the appropriate position so I can tell the nurses to start utilizing it? Do I need to tell the respiratory therapist to adjust the ET tube? Do I start antibiotics because the patient is developing a pneumonia, or is that just atelectasis? Is the central line in the appropriate place, and no pneumothorax present? These are just a few of the questions you might see your first week of intern year, and questions you will certainly see during your third year clinical rotations.
Luckily, there are a variety of chest x-ray learning tools available for medical students and residents via mobile apps and online learning modules.
In this article we will go through three phases:
1) Attaining a baseline understanding of Chest X-ray interpretation
2) Practicing your Chest X-ray interpretation skills with mobile apps and modules
3) Advanced Chest x-ray learning modules
The following learning tools are not all mobile apps, and those without a smartphone can utilize many of these using their desktop.
Attain a baseline understanding of chest x-ray interpretation
Dr. Eric Strong is a clinical Assistant Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and has created a free YouTube channel that teaches students and residents how to approach chest x-ray interpretation.
Dr. Strong’s online YouTube course will help you understand a baseline clinical understanding of how chest xray interpretation should be approached. This YouTube Link will take you to his video series on chest x-ray interpretation.
He has 11 videos that range from 10 to 15 minutes, and they are all a must view for students who are starting their clinical rotations. You can easily view the videos on your laptop, your phone, or your tablet.