Med students show increased interest in integrated interventional radiology

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Medical student advisors and interventional radiology (IR) programs should continue to anticipate a high number of applications for integrated IR positions, according to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco. 

The study, published online Aug. 24 in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology, surveyed first through fourth year medical students and radiology residents regarding their interest in IR versus diagnostic radiology (DR). 

“Medical student preference for IR seems to be driven by an interest in direct patient care, a higher number of procedures, and being in a field that they feel is respected by their peers,” the authors, led by Kimberly G. Kallianos, MD, of the department of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote. 

Students were asked to complete a five-point Likert scale survey that assessed their interested in IR versus DR as a career. Those who reported moderate to high levels of interest in radiology as a career were asked three additional questions regarding their level of interest in IR versus DR for residency and the factors that made each appealing on a 10-point scale. 

Radiology residents were also asked to complete a survey measuring their preferences between IR and DR. The 10-point scale survey evaluated residents’ level of interest IR versus DR, IR versus non-IR fellowships and IR versus non-IR practice after fellowship. 

  • 236 of 253 medical students responded to the survey. 
  • 48 of 55 residents responded to the survey. 
  • Among medical students considering a career in radiology, there is a strong level of interest in IR compared to DR. 
  • Medical student preference for IR is driven by an interest in direct patient care, a higher number of procedure and being in a field that they feel is respected by their peers. 
  • Residents were more interested in careers that were not IR focused. 
  • The study noted far more residency, fellowship and attending radiologist positions in DR which could be correlated to residents’ interest in DR—there are more jobs in DR than IR. 

The authors noted the results of the surveys are not representative of national trends; however, if their results are in fact reflective of national interest, the data could reveal imbalance between interest and available positions. Some trainees may choose DR strictly because there is less availability in IR. 

“In summary, our survey revealed a strong interest in IR over DR among medical students considering a career in radiology. The extent to which these data reflect broader trends and the effect this will have on future application patterns and application competitiveness remains to be seen,” Kallianos et al. wrote.