The art of being an expert | DetectedX | Online Diagnostic Training

The art of being an expert

  • February 13, 2023
  • News

The art of being an expert

Experts, And the Art of Decision Making

At DetectedX, we’re determined to make diagnostic experts of radiologists around the world. We do this by providing online learning material and providing direct access to thousands of real-world cases proven by pathology, streamlining the learning process.

But what exactly is an expert? and how do we know that our techniques are going to support medical imaging professionals and radiologists better than the other techniques?

Let’s start at the beginning…

To become an expert in any field, one must engage in extensive study and practice in that field. This often includes obtaining formal education, gaining hands-on experience through internships or apprenticeships, and staying current with the latest developments and research in the field through ongoing learning and professional development opportunities. Additionally, experts often have a passion for their field and are constantly finding proactive ways to improve their skills and knowledge.

Gladwell’s theory on becoming an expert

You might not know the name Malcolm Gladwell, but we’re sure you’ve heard about his theory, that in order to be an expert in any field, you will need to take part in 10,000-hours of deliberate practice.

Gladwell first introduced this concept in his 2008 book "Outliers: The Story of Success."

In the book, Gladwell uses examples from a variety of fields, including music, sports, and business, to illustrate how individuals who have put in the time and effort to achieve expertise. He argues that it takes around 10,000-hours of dedicated practice to master a skill or acquire a body of knowledge. He argues that this 10,000-hour rule applies to most fields, and is the key to success in any area of expertise.

Gladwell's idea of the 10,000-hour rule has been widely discussed and debated. While many experts agree that practice is essential for achieving expertise, some argue that other factors, such as innate talent and opportunities for practice, also play a significant role. Others have also pointed out that the number 10,000-hours is an estimate and that the actual number of hours of practice can vary depending on the field and the individual.

Overall, the idea of the 10,000-hour rule is not a scientific fact, but it is a concept that can be used to understand the importance of practice in the development of expertise. It is important to note that the 10,000 hours is not a guarantee of success, but it is a good rule of thumb to understand that expertise takes time and dedication to achieve.

For those of us working in education, and in particular medical imaging education, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to enhance the learning experience for radiologists and medical imaging staff in our field. So, we are keen to find better ways to teach, and how to learn.


Chase and Simon – the theory of memorizing


In another study by Chase and Simon, it was interesting to see the benefits of memorizing patterns, a study that is quite relatable to DetectedX’s online learning module.

William Chase and Herbert Simon are two researchers who conducted a study on chess expertise in the 1970s. The study aimed to understand the cognitive processes involved in becoming a chess expert.

Chase and Simon used a group of chess players, ranging from beginners to masters, and asked them to recall chess positions from a board that had been taken away. The results showed that the expert players were able to recall the positions much more accurately and quickly than the less skilled players. This led Chase and Simon to conclude that expertise in chess is largely based on the ability to recognize patterns and quickly recall them from memory.

'Chunking', is a process of grouping information together for ease of recall.

The study also found that expert chess players had a large "chunk" of knowledge, which is a group of related information that is stored in long-term memory and can be retrieved quickly. They also found that experts use a process called "chunking" to group together related pieces of information and make them easier to remember.

The study by Chase and Simon was one of the first to examine the cognitive processes involved in chess expertise and has had a significant impact on the field of expertise research.

While this study had its limitations, and only used a small sample group, their findings have been used to inform the development of training programs for chess players, as well as other fields where expertise is important, such as medicine, law and business.

How we think, make decisions, and store information is important for medical staff involved in diagnostics; hence the many studies to better understand the topic.

The decision-making process in radiologists

In a study closer to our field of learning, Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist and economist, conducted research on the decision-making processes of radiologists. In one study, he and his colleagues found that radiologists were more likely to make errors when interpreting mammograms when they were presented with a large number of images to review in a short period of time. The researchers concluded that the radiologists' performance was impaired by the cognitive overload of having to process too much information at once. This study suggested that decision-making in high-pressure, high-stakes environments, like radiology, can be improved by reducing cognitive load and providing decision-makers with more manageable amounts of information.

Another study by Kahneman and his colleagues, published in 1999, investigated how radiologists make decisions when interpreting mammograms. They found that radiologists were more likely to make errors when they were asked to make a binary decision (e.g.: "is there a cancer or not?") than when they were asked to make a continuous judgment (e.g.: "how confident are you that there is a cancer?"). The results suggested that binary decisions may lead to a higher rate of errors because they do not allow for uncertainty and do not take into account the degree of confidence in the decision.

Kahneman's research on radiologists highlights the importance of reducing cognitive overload and providing decision-makers with manageable amounts of information in order to improve decision-making in high-pressure, high-stakes environments. Additionally, it suggests that allowing for degrees of certainty and avoiding binary decisions can lead to better decision making.

What is the best way to become an expert?

To be an expert in diagnostics or any field, you need practice. You should constantly push yourself to expand your craft. Being able to access real life cases and solve real-world challenges without the pressure of the in-clinic environment will add to the level of confidence of any clinician.

DetectedX is continuously working with world-leaders in radiology education to challenge users with real-world cases and lectures on the latest medical imaging techniques. With the vast library of cases, screen radiologists and trainees may see more cases in one hour using the DetectedX platform, than they may see in a whole year of clinical practice.  Courses allow users to access CME/CPD accredited learning on demand. Click here to learn more.

This article was inspired by a Veritasium Youtube video by Canadian, Australian science presenter Derek Muller. In the video Muller breaks down all elements of decision making, and is well worth a view. You can watch it here.


Chase, W. G., & Simon, H. A. (1973). Perception in chess. Cognitive psychology, 4(1), 55-81. –

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. –