I will first give a broad overview of DNB/FNB courses for Breast Imaging before elaborating on my DNB experience at Kovai Medical Center.
Subspeciality: Breast Imaging
Duration: 1 year
Eligibility criteria: MD Radiology /DNB Radiology
Institutes: There are many institutes now that offer fellowship in breast imaging. Few of them are DNB accredited as per the seat matrix chart of 2022.
How to join:
For Non-DNB accredited institutes, the policy is different for every hospital offering the course. Few conduct an exam while others take only an interview. The exact information with regard to when the seats are open for new candidates may / may not be available on their website and one has to really keep a check on their website or the social media groups especially whatsapp groups.
For the DNB accredited institutes, there is an entrance exam by the name of Fellowship entrance test (FET) that is being conducted every year by NBE (National board of examinations). There is a single paper of 3 hours conducted online, in which there are multiple choice questions. The questions cover general radiology with no fixed proportion or separate questions on breast imaging.
Results & counselling: Once the results are announced, candidate is asked by NBE to fill his/her preference for the choice of colleges. Online counselling is conducted and the candidate is required to freeze the seat and then submit the online fees to secure the seat. If the fee is not submitted within the defined time period, then the candidature is cancelled and the seat automatically gets vacant and becomes available in the next round of counselling.
Course Fee: 1,47,000/- INR [1,25,000 + 22,500 (18% GST)] for one year currently.
Stipend: Rupees 41,000/- INR per month currently
Leaves: Maximum 30 days of leave excluding regular duty offs and the gazetted holidays as per the hospital/ institute calendar/policy.
Getting trained at Kovai Medical Centre – My experience
I did my fellowship from Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital (KMCH) in 2020 which is an FNB accredited institute. I was lucky to be at KMCH as we have excellent dedicated faculty who are great teachers and inspiring personalities.
Workplace: The hospital has a dedicated breast centre with state-of-the-art equipment that offers all screening, diagnostic and breast intervention services. It is a tertiary level referral centre for breast services. A holistic training is imparted to the fellow that involves not only the imaging part but also the pathology, nuclear medicine and the clinical part. Importantly, the working environment is healthy, making it a great place to be at, work and learn.
The workflow and the expectations from a fellow: You will be expected to work for 8-9 hours in the breast centre where you will get to report both diagnostic and screening mammograms. 2D, 3D and contrast enhanced mammograms are performed here. You will also get to assist and perform breast interventions independently. You will also gain experience of population-based screening that is being done with help of mobile mammography van. There are no night duties. The entire one year is dedicated to breast imaging; no other general radiology postings are there unless someone has an interest in gynecological imaging that can be learned along as the mentor is also the head for this subspeciality. You also get to attend and participate actively in multi-disciplinary tumor board meetings.
Academics: Journal clubs, lectures and case presentations are an integral part of the fellowship program conducted on a regular basis throughout the year. Online webinars and a formative assessment test is performed by the NBE. Formative assessment test comprises of two written papers with each paper being three hours separated by an hour of break.
Thesis/ research work: NBE requires the fellow to have at least one original article being published in the indexed journal. All students are encouraged to participate in national and state conferences and present posters or oral papers.
Maintenance of log book: You are required by the NBE to maintain a log book that has to be filled in every day.
Living in Coimbatore: Coimbatore is a great place to live, especially because of its pleasant weather and it good hearted, helpful people. The hospital is situated within 2 kms of the airport. People from north may experience a language problem especially while interacting with the patient, but owing to the high literacy rate, almost everyone knows a smattering of English. There are two shopping malls and two supermarts nearby that can meet all your shopping needs.
Accommodation: Accommodation is provided by the hospital only if it is available. Usually, there is a long waiting list, and one has to take residence outside the hospital. Many options are available for rent at a walking distance.
Food: There is a big cafeteria inside the hospital premises. South Indian food is usually available, except during lunch when you may get north Indian food as well.
Leaves and stipend: As specified by NBE
Finishing the course: At the end of the course, you need to get the log book signed from breast imaging division head, head of the radiology dept and the dean of KMCH. A training completion certificate is issued to you. The degree is issued after passing the fellowship exit exam that comprises of a theory paper and the practicals.
Summary: At the end of the fellowship, you realise how different you start looking at breast radiology as a subspeciality. You are extremely well-read, more confident and at par with your super-specialized colleagues. Being trained in a renowned hospital by a stalwart of breast imaging definitely adds up to your resume, and the quality work reflected in your practice subsequently makes you stand out in the crowd.
Downside: Absolutely nil. It is important that we start refining our skills and become super-specialized just like other specialities.
Please feel free to contact me for any queries:
Dr. Suchana Kushvaha, MBBS, MD, FNB, Breast Imaging (KMCH, Coimbatore)
Consultant Breast Clinic, Daffodils [Artemis hospitals], Gurgaon, Haryana
Mobile number: 9818374916
Email id: email@example.com
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Is the exit exam for fellowship conducted by external examiners and how is the pass percentage?