Generating student interest in radiology has been quite the test for many academic medical centers across the United States. A decline in medical students applying for radiology residency positions has prompted university medical centers, such as the department of radiology at the University of Mississippi, to revamp their recruitment approach.
In a recent article published by JACR, university faculty explained that challenges in recruitment include a lack of competition once present in radiology, waning interest in the field and fewer students choosing radiology as their specialty every academic year.
"We must now promote our specialty [radiology] to students in order to maintain the high quality of radiology residents to which we have become accustomed," said Charlotte S. Taylor, MD, lead author of the article and a radiologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Taylor and colleagues claim that medical students are offered very little exposure to radiology in their medical school curriculum, as well as radiology rotations offering fewer opportunities for medical students to actively participate. Additionally, a shortage in role models in radiology is also an ongoing problem.
The lack of gender diversity is another consideration. For example, the University of Mississippi's Medical School on average has only one female student per year who applies for a radiology residency, according to the article.
"Gender disparity in radiology is an ongoing issue hindering the recruitment of female students," Taylor said.
Admittingly, the university has struggled to have medical students who choose to specialize in radiology remain at the university.
"We have five to six residency spots per year in our program,” Taylor et al. wrote. “The year in which eight students from our institution applied for radiology, none of them stayed at our institution. In the past two years, only one student from our medical school stayed for radiology residency.”
To generate more student interest in radiology and improve competition, Taylor and her fellow colleagues mentioned two different approaches: an interactive student group and improved student rotations.
The interactive student groups consisted of one attending radiologist, a resident liaison and two students. Improved student rotations involved medical students attending informational radiology sessions, watching and participating in basic radiology procedures, and interacting one-on-one with fellow radiologists.
- both approaches after this academic year, the university included 15 students who participated in the interactive student groups and rotations.
As for the future, the department would like to continue to generate the interest of more medical students who are female and from minority groups.
"Camaraderie between students and radiology residents and staff members will generate a more genuine interest and commitment to the field of radiology and to our own radiology residency program," Taylor and colleague wrote. "More students choosing radiology as a specialty will increase the competitiveness of our residency programs, thus continuing to put the best students into our field."