ABR Core Exam and MOC Update — 2018 NIS Skills Study Guide

ABR delivers massive improvement to 2018 NIS Study Guide

June 6, 2018

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The latest NIS Study Guide revision is a major overhaul, and that’s a good thing. Source: The ABR

Whether you’re prepping for the Core Exam, Certifying Exam, or MOC, you’ll be facing a completely new set of non-interpretive skills (NIS) questions from previous years. That’s been true every year–the NIS Study Guide has been a work in progress over the past four years. But this year, the American Board of Radiology (ABR) gave their NIS Study Guide a massive overhaul.

The rewrite represents a leap forward in writing quality and relevance. This is high praise from us — our guiding principle at Orbit Radiology is that busywork fuels burnout, and we have zero tolerance for busywork.

As a result of the rewrite, online lectures and review books generated last year are already stale. To save yourself time, ditch the derivative products and focus directly on the 2018 ABR NIS Study Guide.

Here’s what’s new for the 2018 NIS Study Guide:

1. Research and Screening Topics Eliminated

Were you dreading having to memorize statistics minutia for the exam? Good new here-that material is eliminated from the study guide. For example,

§ You won’t need to memorize equations relating true positive, false positive, positive predictive value, etc.

§ Topics like p-values, confidence intervals, and ROC analysis are eliminated.

§ You won’t need to memorize different types of bias.

2. Methodologies for QI Condensed

The new NIS doesn’t require you to dive into the multitude of quality improvement (QI) methodologies, like Lean Process Improvement, Six Sigma method, etc. Instead, the ABR has chosen to focus on the PDSA cycle. This is probably because most of these QI methodologies have similar elements, and PDSA has already started gaining traction in some academic radiology departments.

This is actually an update we saw in 2017, but some of the review literature out there has more stale content that could have you exploring the nuances of lean process improvement.

3. Major expansion on reimbursement and legal

This is probably the most awesome evolution in the NIS Study Guide we’ve seen to date. Until now, radiology residency curricula had little to no representation for two of the most practical non-clinical topics we need to know as radiologists: (1) determinants of reimbursement, and (2) anatomy of a lawsuit.

Astonishingly, there’s little to no discussion of reimbursement with radiology residents during training. On the other hand, it’s one of the most discussed topics among administrative leadership in academics or corporations, and between partners in private practice. Similarly, many veteran radiologists are familiar with the intricacies of lawsuits given that 7% of radiologists are named in a lawsuit every year. But this topic is hardly ever openly discussed in residency.

The systematic and explicit introduction of these topics into the 2018 NIS Study Guide comes not a moment too soon, with the introduction of performance-based reimbursement next year (MIPS/MACRA), and the escalating intensity of burnout in our profession.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re getting ready for the Core Exam, Certifying Exam, or MOC, the new 2018 NIS Study Guide should be your definitive source. It’s a major overhaul from prior versions with better writing and practical new material. Derivative study products are outdated.

- Orbit Staff

Ram Srinivasan MD PhD is a practicing neuroradiologist and educator in Palo Alto, California. He serves as Course Director at Core Physics Review, and leads Orbit Radiology to simplify CME+SAM/SA-CME for radiologists with brutal shifts.


[1] Studying for the Core Exam, The ABR, accessed 6/6/18, here

[2] 2018 NIS Study Guide, The ABR, accessed 6/6/18, here

[3] 2017 NIS Study Guide, The ABR, accessed 6/6/18, here

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