Radiology subinternships can play key role in radiologist recruitment

If the curricula effectively incorporate hands-on experience with quality instruction and team integration, radiology subinternships can be an effective means of prompting medical students to choose radiology for their final-year clinical elective.  

That’s according to a study published online Sept. 22 in the German journal RöFo: progress in the field of x-ray and imaging techniques.

Richard Kasch, MD, MSc, of the University of Greifswald in northeastern Germany and colleagues surveyed 94 medical students (54.4 percent women, 45.6 percent men) who had completed a four-month subinternship in radiology in locations around the country.

The researchers divided the students into four groups: those who said they could picture themselves doing a clinical elective in radiology in their final school year based on their experiences during the subinternship (“Yes, based on subinternship”), those who said they could not (“No, based on subinternship”) and those who had already made up their minds prior to the subinternship (“Yes, prior to subinternship” and “No, prior to subinternship”).

Reviewing the individual responses, Kasch and team learned that the majority (54 students, or 57.4 percent) intended to do a final-year clinical elective in radiology.

Some 39 of these (41.5  percent) cited “being encouraged” by their experiences during the subinternship as a reason for their decision.

At the same time, the team found out, 42.6  percent (40 students) came away from the subinternship with a self-reported negative attitude toward a clinical elective in radiology, and 16 of them (17.0  percent) based this on their subinternship experience.

Groups did not differ regarding gender or age, Kasch and co-authors report.

The students who were motivated to do a final-year clinical elective in radiology said they had experienced excellent academic teaching (p = 0.001) and practical involvement (p = 0.003), achieved their learning goals more often (p = 0.001), were better integrated into the team (p = 0.001) and acquired more practical skills (p = 0.003).

Overall satisfaction was higher in these groups (p = 0.001).

“Satisfaction with a radiology subinternship is crucial for motivating medical students to do a final year clinical elective in radiology,” Kasch and co-authors conclude. “A structured subinternship and continuous mentoring should be targeted to keep students connected to radiology.”

The insights on subinternships come at a good time, as a recent U.S. survey found that, of 1,200 fourth-year med students who responded, only 7 percent said they planned on pursuing radiology as their specialty.

(Things could be worse in the U.S., as some healthcare watchers in Scotland, for example, are sounding the alarm about a looming radiologist shortage.)