6 recommendations for medical student radiology education

Standardizing measures of imaging competency, uniform messaging and placing imaging education early in the curriculum are a few of the recommendations for medical student radiology education presented in an article published in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

In order to generate the suggestions, the American College of Radiology (ACR) Task Force on Medical Student Education in Radiology and the Alliance of Medical Student Educators in Radiology (AMSER) investigated the current status of how and to what extent medical imaging is taught in medical schools. Using a three-part survey of medical school deans, radiology department chairs and intern physicians, lead author Christopher M. Strauss, MD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues aimed to use its results to enhance the quality of radiology education.

With a response rate of 46 percent for the chairs, 24 percent for the survey of deans and 1.4 percent for the interns, the data from the interns was not included in analysis. According to the authors, the survey data from the deans and chairs reflect a balanced representation of U.S. allopathic medical schools.

Below are the six recommendations and actionable interventions proposed by the ACR-AMSER committee:

1.       Radiologists should acknowledge the expansion of expectations surrounding medical imaging education and that they are currently unmet- In order to accomplish this, exposure to medical imaging education taught by radiologists should be implemented and increased at every chance in the curriculum.

2.       Radiologists must be identified by the medical school leaders as the “go to” faculty members for medical imaging teacher- This aim may be achieved by lobbying for fundamental medical imaging concepts to be taught by radiologists, identifying educational opportunities for medical students to directly observe radiologists’ role in patient care and considering utilization of social media and points of student access beyond the realm of formal medical school curricula.

3.       Shift medical imaging education to logical early points in the medical school curriculum- Because students exposed to radiology in their preclinical curricula are less likely to hold negative stereotypes about the profession, radiologists should be aggressively promoted as integral to every anatomy course. Additional preclinical courses in which imaging is used or could be integrated should also be identified. The creation of a radiology interest group for junior students may be helpful, as well as increased availability of digital imaging resources to the population.

4.       Radiologists need to offer a uniform message and experience across institutions- Integrated medical imaging training across all four years of curriculum should be implemented. A nationally recognized core imaging curriculum with didactic and digital interactive materials and easy access should be adopted. A required radiology-led medical imaging clerkship should be instituted in the third year of schooling, and the extent of direct patient contact and procedures should be emphasized.

5.       Promote the adoption of standardized measures of medical student competency in medical imaging- The survey revealed a need for standardized assessment tools, which may be acquired by supporting the testing of students on basic principles and concepts using nationally available resources.

6.       Radiology chairs should make medical student education a top priority and valued part of the departmental hierarchy- Lack of clinical faculty time and department cost affects implementation of more comprehensive radiology education programming. To avoid this, department chairs should be encouraged to develop and support an education track for faculty promotion within their programs. Faculty membership in professional organizations that promote educational material development and collaboration should also be supported.

“The importance of medical imaging to patient care has grown exponentially; however, the role of radiology in teaching has not changed in a correlative fashion,” wrote the authors. “Radiologists must play a more active role in the education of students who will be future referring physicians and potential radiologists.”