Emphasizing intellectual, imaging aspect of clerkships can help recruit radiologists

Over the past decade, U.S. residency applications to diagnostic radiology programs have declined. Boston researchers set out to determine what a resident looks for in a radiology program. 

While there is likely no single explanation for this, Boston researchers found radiology residents sought clerkships that emphasized the intellectual and imaging aspects of radiology, while those who chose the specialty for lifestyle reasons achieved less job satisfaction during their residency.

Results were published online April 12 in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology.

“Given the recent improvement in the radiology job market and increasing competitiveness of both interventional radiology and diagnostic radiology programs, it will become increasingly important to recruit those individuals with the greatest likelihood of achieving job satisfaction in radiology,” wrote first author Shanna A. Matalon, MD, with the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues.

A total of 488 radiology residents responded to an online survey administered between December 7, 2016, and March 31, 2017. Residents identified the most appealing areas of radiology during medical school, chose experiences most influential in picking radiology and scored job satisfaction on visual analog scales.

Results showed the most influential aspects in choosing radiology were intellectual (38 percent), imaging (20 percent), procedural (20 percent) and potential lifestyle (14 percent).

The study also found radiology clerkship reading room shadowing (29 percent) to be an influential factor, followed by a radiologist mentor (20 percent) and non-radiology clerkship imaging exposure (16 percent).

Authors pointed out a majority of current residents first found an interest in radiology during nonradiology clerkships. An “interesting and unexpected” result they believe may signal the potential to positively influence students to join the profession, regardless if a medical school has a radiology clerkship program.

Matalon et al. also noted those residents who chose radiology based on potential lifestyle correlated with less job satisfaction.

“By engaging medical students early and throughout their medical school curricula and by emphasizing the intellectual, imaging, and procedural components of radiology, we can ensure a bright future of our field by recruiting those individuals with the greatest likelihood of achieving job satisfaction in radiology,” Matalon et al. wrote.