How are interventional radiology/diagnostic radiology programs recruiting students?

Interventional radiology/diagnostic radiology (IR/DR) is a new primary specialty medical students can apply to immediately after medical school. But are these programs doing an effective job reaching out to students? 

"In 2014, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education established the program requirements for the new residency model, which is generally structured to include an intern year followed by three years of diagnostic and two years of interventional radiology training so that graduates are dual certified to practice both diagnostic and interventional radiology at the end of six years," wrote Juri Bassuner, MD, of Saint Louis University, and colleagues in a new study published in Academic Radiology.

"Medical students who pursue the integrated pathway, however, must decide 4 years sooner on whether to pursue interventional training than their DR resident counterparts. The latter has the benefit of first progressing through diagnostic residency, which includes the spectrum of imaging subspecialties."

This, Bassuner and colleagues noted, puts students interested in IR/DR at a disadvantage. 

To identify strategies being used by programs to introduce and attract medical students to IR/DR, the researchers sent an electronic questionnaire to 51 interventional radiology program directors in the U.S. identified from a Society of Interventional Radiology registry.  

Responses were collected over a period of six months by the Society of Interventional Radiology Resident Follow Student Section, Interventional Radiology Residency Training Committee.  

A total of 18 responses were recorded from programs across the U.S., all of which encouraged medical students to apply for both diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology programs, according to the researchers.  

Of the programs that responded, 94 percent offered research opportunities and 78 percent offered shadowing opportunism, had dedicated interventional radiology interest groups and invited medical students to imaging device workshops.  

Planned informal opportunities for medical students to meet with faculty members and a dedicated department website was made available by 67 percent of programs. More than half (59 percent) of the programs invited medical students to journal clubs and half of the programs offered formal medical student-faculty mentorship programs, social media outreach initiatives and other online resources (I.e. Facebook, Student Doctor Network, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and podcasts).  

While these trends are encouraging, the researchers noted that future work is needed to uncover the impact of the strategies on student recruitment and retention.  

“Our survey offers a glimpse at exactly what program directors are doing to address this issue and the collected responses reflect strategies that can be easily adopted by interventional radiology program directors throughout the country,” the authors concluded. “By increasing the exposure of interventional radiology to medical students and ultimately making active steps to recruit the next generating, interventional radiology can ensure its own growth and vitality.”