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Feature: By the book 

07-12-2019 09:58

An interview with the authors of the Pocketbook of Clinical IR

Summer 2019

Pocketbook of Clinical IR authors

In early 2019, SIR Press (working with the society’s publishing partner, Thieme Medical Publishers) released the Pocketbook of Clinical IR: A Concise Guide to Interventional Radiology, written by SIR members Shantanu Warhadpande, MD (current chair of the SIR Residents, Fellows and Medical Students Section), Alex Lionberg, MD, and Kyle J. Cooper, MD.

This valuable new resource (available for purchase at is designed to help trainees intelligently field consults, effectively round on patients, and develop an understanding of IR disease processes—but serves as an excellent refresher on fundamentals for other IRs as well. IR Quarterly recently spoke with the authors about their experience writing this book, how they believe it will impact the community, and more.

What was the impetus for developing this book—what need were you hoping to address? Who would you say are the target audiences?

Shantanu Warhadpande, MD: Alex and I both had a similar experience on our IR rotations as fourth-year medical students. Though we were eager to learn about the specialty, we found that most IR textbooks were not tailored to student learners and were too dense to be read cover to cover. We often felt lost while watching cases, as we lacked experience in image interpretation, knew little about the equipment, and had no grasp of the bigger picture clinical context.

This was really the motivation for the book. As students, we already had a sense of the style of book that would be helpful for foundational learning. From there, it was simply a matter of learning the material ourselves and presenting it in a way that made sense to us. Our goal was to produce a book that was concise enough to read in a weekend, yet that covered nearly every type of case one might see over a month on the service.

Kyle Cooper, MD: The target audience for the book is junior trainees. This includes not only medical students looking to shine on their first rotation but also junior residents who often need to make judicious use of their study time in the early years, when diagnostic radiology can be demanding. Even though it’s written for trainees, anyone looking to get a better understanding of IR can benefit from this resource—nurse practitioners, IR techs or even those new to the medical device field.

What were the biggest challenges you experienced in your training? How would this book have helped if it had been available to you?

Alex Lionberg, MD: I think one of the most challenging things about being a medical student on an IR rotation or subinternship is figuring out ways to stand out. You often have to walk a fine line, being assertive while making sure not to step on any toes. Knowing how to ask intelligent questions and (equally as important) the appropriate time to ask them will show the attendings and residents that you are both prepared and attentive. The Pocketbook is a great resource for medical students who want to make sure they have this foundational knowledge, so they can hit the ground running on their first day of a rotation.

SW: When it comes to being the junior resident on IR, I think it’s common to want to get as much procedural experience as possible, but you definitely don’t want to slack on your other responsibilities—fielding consults and triaging patient issues on the floor. I’ve found that having a strong clinical background will help handle these tasks efficiently and with confidence. Being clinically competent will make your seniors happy and, when things run smoothly, you will almost certainly have more time to get into cases. I think this is where our book shines, with the focus on clinical care.

Describe your experience working with Thieme on this book. What aspects of its development did you find particularly surprising, challenging or rewarding?

AL: There was definitely a steep learning curve! But, as it turned out, the inexperience worked in our favor. Making mistakes and going through revisions forced us to continually scrutinize our content for clarity.

In the end I believe we achieved our goal of putting together material that is straightforward and tailored to trainees. We were fortunate to work with publishers who believed in our idea from the beginning and who put up with our growing pains. The staff at Thieme were flexible with our busy schedules, always available to answer questions, and helped us navigate a number of unanticipated issues along the way. We are very grateful for the support of Thieme and SIR.

How do you think your book will continue to meet the needs of IRs-in-training, as the training paradigm continues to grow
and evolve?

KC: IR is an exciting field, and its popularity among medical students is increasing every year. More and more students are rotating through IR, and there will be a continued need to provide them with fundamental knowledge to get the most out of it. We envision this book helping to orient these trainees to their new surroundings, while at the same time learning the needs and expectations of the referring clinical services. Additionally, this text will help IR- and DR-bound residents alike to make sense of the organized chaos that governs day-to-day operations of medical practices. Our hope is that the pocketbook will allow these residents to confidently field consults and triage clinical questions as early in their experience as possible.

Anything else you’d like to tell IRQ readers about the book?

SW: We set out to make this reference concise and easily digestible. It is meant to be used in tandem with more in-depth, procedurally focused texts. We know our audience. We were part of the audience when we decided to write this book, so every detail of it is intended to cater to them. We sincerely hope that students and residents find it useful on their rotations.

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