How to increase female medical student interest in radiology

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 - Helping Hands

Interest in radiology among female medical students remains practically unchanged over the last few decades, prompting researchers to look into what the specialty can do to reverse that trend once and for all.

In a new study published in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology, for example, the authors implemented changes at a medical school from 2012 to 2016 to try and get more female students interested in radiology. Some of their methods, like exposing medical students to radiology earlier than before, were found to increase the interest in radiology among male students, but they hardly made a dent in female interest.

One method, however, showed that it can make a clear impact: promoting the visibility of female radiologists.

One of the biggest steps the researchers took to increase interest in radiology was hosting a “Women in Radiology” panel in 2016. Three female attending radiologists and two female radiology residents were panelists, answering questions from a crowd full of female medical students.

Following the panel, students reported that they were significantly more interested in radiology than before. They said their “perception of patient contact” within radiology was 28 percent higher, their perceptions of work-life balance in radiology improved by 14 percent and they were 14 percent more likely to “consider a career in radiology.” The post-panel survey also revealed that 71 percent of female medical students wanted to take a clinical radiology elective sometime in the future, and the other 29 percent of respondents “were considering it.”

The authors noted that promoting the visibility of female radiologists went far beyond this one panel.

“Young female radiology faculty began to become more involved in the medical school as well,” wrote lead author Carolynn M. DeBenedectis, MD, department of radiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts, and colleagues. “These female faculty began to serve at subspecialty mentors for medical students, hosted ‘dinner with doctors’ through the local chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) (medical students have dinner at a female faculty members house to learn more about their specialty), and participated in a panel at the medical school featuring specialties in medicine where women are underrepresented.”