WHO Scholar Level 1 course on radiation risk communication to improve benefit-risk dialogue in paediatric imaging

Online – 36 hours – Level 1 English – Cohort 1 – Spring 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) invites applications for the pilot cohort of the WHO Scholar Level 1 course on communicating radiation risks in paediatric imaging.

  • The course is primarily targeted at health-care providers who refer pediatric patients for radiological imaging OR who perform radiological imaging in paediatric patients.
  • Medical and dental school students, as well as those belonging to other academic and research institutions, may also apply.

Applications are no longer being received but you can still register your interest in this course.

Context for the course

The use of radiation in paediatric imaging saves lives - the clinical value of imaging involving the use of radiation for the diagnosis of paediatric illness and injury is unquestionable.

While every day applications of X-rays for medical imaging help millions of patients worldwide, inappropriate use may result in unnecessary and preventable radiation risks, particularly in children. A balanced approach is needed that recognizes the multiple health benefits, while addressing and minimizing health risks.

Patients and families should have access to risk-benefit discussions about paediatric imaging when, where, and in the way they need to best understand the information and to be able to use it for making informed choices.

Accurate and effective radiation risk communication is also necessary between health care providers who request or perform radiological medical procedures in children.

By enabling informed decision-making, effective radiation risk communication contributes to ensure the greatest possible benefit of paediatric imaging, at the lowest possible risk.

This course is intended to support health care providers:

  • to improve their capabilities to communicate known or potential radiation risks associated with paediatric imaging procedures and
  • to support risk-benefit dialogue during the process of paediatric health care delivery.

Course schedule overview

Active participation is required for the entire duration on the course.

22–26 March 2021 – Onboarding week
Join course platforms

29 March–2 April 2021 – Orientation week
Complete short daily tasks to prepare your learning

5–9 April 2021 – Week 1
Document and reflect on current practices
in radiation risk communication

10–25 April 2021 – Term break

26–30 April 2021 – Week 2
Use Message Mapping to get the key messages across

3–7 May 2021 – Week 3
Create a communication tool you can use in your work

10–14 May 2021 – Week 4
Submit your communication strategy/action plan to achieve better communication outcomes

17–21 May 2021 – Week 5
Peer review communication strategies/action plans developed by other course participants

24–28 May 2021 – Week 6
Revise and finalize your own
communication strategy/action plan

The resources for this course are also available as a series of short, self-guided modules suitable for independent study and practice that may be complemented by interactive discussion groups.

Who should apply?

This course is intended for health care providers (in-service) as well as medical and dental students (pre-service).

You stand to benefit from this course if…

  • You are a paediatrician, surgeon, general practitioner/family physician, emergency medicine physician, physician assistant, nurse, or other health-care provider involved in the process of imaging referral of paediatric patients;
  • You are a health-care provider who perform, support or direct imaging procedures in children (e.g. radiologist, nuclear medicine physician, medical physicist, health physicist, radiographer, radiological technologist, dentist, interventional cardiologist, orthopaedic surgeon, paediatric surgeon, vascular surgeon, gastroenterologist, urologist or other health professional performing radiological imaging procedures);
  • You are a medical or dental school student, or belong to other academic and research institutions.

Skills and competencies that you will practice in this course


  • Improve your knowledge of paediatric imaging and radiation protection
  • Describe the types of radiation and sources of radiation exposure of children
  • Describe current practice in the utilization of ionizing radiation in paediatric imaging
  • Recognize potential health risks associated with radiation exposure during childhood
  • Interpret concepts and principles of radiation protection and how they are applied to paediatric imaging
  • Identify key factors needed to establish and maintain a radiation safety culture in health care to improve practice and communication


  • Practice your ability to communicate on risks
  • Apply communication strategies to explain how risks can be controlled and benefits maximized in paediatric imaging.
  • Examine close-loop communication and communication practices with peers, patients and families
  • Conduct risk-benefit discussions to inform the decision-making process among inter-professional peers


  • Develop your strategic thinking about risk communication
  • Recognize different approaches to establish benefit-risk dialogue in clinical settings including communication with the paediatric patient.
  • Differentiate different scenarios and stakeholders involved when creating a dialogue in health care settings.
  • Reflect on ethical issues related to the communication of radiation risks in paediatric imaging
  • Develop a heightened sense of cultural sensitivity in the healthcare profession through interaction with peers.

How to develop tools you can use in your work

  • Develop a communication strategy on paediatric imaging for different target audiences
  • Create information materials and communication tools for patients and their families

What you will gain

  • Improve your communication skills to better maintain the discussion about radiation benefits and risks in paediatric imaging.
  • Connect with a global community committed to improving risk-benefit dialogue in paediatric imaging.
  • Compare and share best practices with fellow practitioners and global experts to improve radiation risk communication in paediatric health care.
  • Adapt global guidance to your local context, culture, and language.
  • Learn from your peers through both formal and informal dialogue, giving and receiving feedback.
  • Earn a Scholar certificate of participation recognizing the level of effort and your commitment to improve.
  • Develop your digital skills to collaborate and learn remotely.

What you will do

As a participant in this course, you will:

  • Complete weekly assignments.
  • Complete a draft project that you can use in your work.
  • Peer review the draft project developed by colleagues from all over the world.
  • Present your project to your peers during the weekly discussion group.
  • Upon successful completion of the course, you may be invited to join your country’s Impact Accelerator, a group of Scholar Alumni who have pledged to achieve impact together.

Key resource for this course

The Level 1 pilot course will engage participants in activities that require them to use the WHO guidance document “Communicating radiation risks in paediatric imaging: Information to support healthcare discussions about benefit and risk”. Participants are expected to be familiar with the WHO guidance document, which includes:

  • different approaches to establish dialogue in clinical settings including communication with the paediatric patient;
  • practical tips to support the risk–benefit discussion;
  • ethical issues related to the communication of radiation risks in paediatric imagingconcepts and principles of radiation protection, how they are applied to paediatric imaging; and
  • key factors needed to establish and maintain a radiation safety culture in health care to improve practice.
Download the WHO guidance document

Want to to learn more? Join our Special Event

In this event, you will join Dr María del Rosario Perez from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Dr Don Frush from Image Gently to explore why and how families need risk-benefit discussions about paediatric imaging.

This Special Event is open to everyone, irrespective of your application status to join the course



Participants should expect to:

  • Dedicate at least 6 hours per week to course work.

  • Participate remotely in the weekly, 60-minute group discussion that will take place online once a week, (Recordings of these sessions will be made available for those who are unable to attend for valid reasons.)

  •  Complete activities that have been divided into short daily tasks intended to be completed in 30 minutes.

Each set of course activities must be completed within a given week. Participants may schedule their work at any time during the week, except for the weekly group session which is scheduled at a fixed day and time each week. (Those unable to attend for a legitimate reason will be asked to complete a catch-up task.)

Technical requirements

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that they are able to meet the following requirements.

Information technology: You will need to access the course web site on a regular basis (preferably every day). Participants need to have access to a reliable Internet connection and a standards-based browser less than two years old (Firefox, Safari, or Chrome). Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge users will be asked to use a standards-based browser for the course. Mobile-only users will need to use Mobile Chrome in desktop mode when working on their course projects.

Internet access: Specific guidance will be provided to those who have bandwidth limitations, intermittent access, or may suffer from disruption of their connection to the Internet.

Language: The language of the course is English. Participants are encouraged to schedule extra time if they are not fully proficient writing in the course language.

How will we learn in this course?

Participants in this course will be ‘peers’ because they work in the same field and are interested in the course topic. Most people recognize that adult learners can learn from each other through ‘peer learning’.

  • Effective practice of peer learning, however, requires un-learning much of what has been ingrained over years of schooling.
  • We have internalized the conviction that significant learning requires expert feedback.
    In this course:
  • You will discover how much you can learn from your peers by giving and receiving feedback in many different ways.
  • You will learn to trust and support colleagues in the course – and discover that this can greatly strengthen your own learning.
  • You will likely need to challenge your assumptions about how you learn in order to succeed in this course.

You may be skeptical about how much you can learn from other participants – given that you do not know their expertise or experience.

  • Learning, however, is about problem-solving and critical thinking – not just knowledge.
  • We ask that you trust the process – and expect to initially find yourself outside your comfort zone until you have experienced a moment of significant learning.

How will I know how I am doing – and where I need to improve?

The course will offer you many ways to receive guidance, support, and feedback from its faculty, who will provide guidance when and if it is needed.

  • We are used to receiving feedback when sitting knee-to-knee with colleagues in a room or face-to-face in a video or phone call.
  • In this course, you will discover that there are many other ways to receive feedback.
  • Consider that the ways that are least familiar to you may in fact be the most effective, once you get used to them.

Here are some examples:

  • Rather than asking the faculty to review individual assignments, we will be entrusting course participants to evaluate each other’s work using structured peer review .
  • When the course community is connected at the same time online, we will listen to short presentations by participants and everyone will be able to give constructive feedback.
  • Faculty will share guidance, support, and feedback that you can access at any time – and you are expected to think about what these mean for your own work.
  • You will also be able to ask questions at any time – and receive answers from both faculty and peers.


Upon successful completion of the course and following validation of your final project and assignments by the course team and subject matter experts at WHO headquarters, you will receive a certificate of completion issued by the World Health Organization and the Geneva Learning Foundation. Certificate holders agree to show upon request a portfolio of their work that includes the project(s) produced in Scholar.

Honor code

The Scholar community is devoted to learning and the creation of knowledge. We view integrity as the basis for meaningful collaboration. We thus hold honesty – in the representation of our work and in our interactions – as the foundation of our community.

Members of the Scholar community commit themselves to producing course work of integrity – that is, work that adheres to the scholarly and intellectual standards of accurate attribution of sources, appropriate collection and use of data, and transparent acknowledgement of the contribution of others to their ideas, discoveries, interpretations, and conclusions. Cheating on assignments or projects, plagiarizing or misrepresenting the ideas or language of someone else as one’s own, falsifying data, or any other instance of dishonesty violates the standards of our community, as well as the standards of the wider world of immunization.

Scholar course participants are required to adhere to a strict Honor Code. Violation of the Honor Code may result in removal from the course, loss of certification (including prior Scholar certificates), and notification of your employer.

Confidentiality and data protection

This initiative uses the Privacy by Design approach. This means that we think of privacy implication before offering a course, we don't ask for information we don't need, and we protect the information you share. We take pride in treating our learners' privacy the way we would like to be treated, as individuals. We will treat your information with respect.

Research and evaluation

WHO and The Geneva Learning Foundation may review projects developed by Scholars and may consider some of them for use in their communication, advocacy and training effort. You will be asked for consent in your application.
Learners may also be invited to participate in research and evaluation by the Geneva Learning Foundation and its research partners. Participation in this research is completely voluntary, and you may stop taking part at any time. In cases where learners do not consent, no learner data will be collected. Participation or non-participation will have no effect on assessment of your performance in the course or your present or future relationship with the organizations involved.

Learning Strategies International (LSi) is assisting the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop and implement this course, using The Geneva Learning Foundation’s (TGLF) evidence-based Scholar package of interventions to support effective learning for global health.