Despite the current shortage of veterinary radiologists, which is of concern across the profession, DWR has just appointed Audrey Belmudes, increasing its team to 8 Diagnostic Imaging Specialists, making it the largest department of its kind in the world. However, the shortage of Specialists in this discipline does need addressing. Currently there are only 258 such Specialists in Europe and the demand is constantly outstripping supply. This phenomenon is of equal concern in the USA where, last year, there were only 43 new Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR) compared to 70 advertised vacancies.
This needs to be addressed by the expansion of approved training programmes in practice. Olivier Taeymans, Director of the Training Programme at DWR commented “we have recognised the problem and feel a responsibility for training future generations of Specialists”. DWR currently has 4 Residents and 2 Interns, all working towards specialisation via the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging (ECVDI).
As a result of the shortage, many centres are currently having to rely on external reading of imaging studies such as MRI, CT and x-rays. However, this loses the advantage of integration and interaction with clinicians. At DWR, all images are reported by radiologists. There is limited delay in reporting – leading to more rapid diagnoses and, in fact, verbal reporting can be instant. This close collaboration also helps clinicians to choose the best imaging modality for diagnosing the suspected condition, leading to optimal outcomes for the patient and reduced costs to the owner. Another acknowledged drawback of outsourcing the reading of radiographs is the insufficient integration of patient history and or previous studies,
However, for the supply of Imaging Specialists to be increased to meet the demands of the profession, an adequate rise in the number of ECVDI or ACVR-approved training programmes must be seen as a priority and this challenge needs to be addressed by appropriate practices throughout the UK.