Radiology exposure in med school doesn’t affect residency decision

The characteristics of radiology education in medical school seems to have no effect on the rate of application to radiology residency programs, according to a survey of residency program directors.

Some have speculated that greater exposure to radiology in medical school makes students more likely to consider a career in radiology, though studies of the matter have had mixed results, according to Neena Kapoor, MD, and Stacy E. Smith, MD, of the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

To gather information on medical school curricula and the effect on residency applications, Kapoor and Smith emailed web-based surveys to residency program directors at accredited U.S. medical schools, receiving a total of 55 responses. They also mined data from the Electronic Residency Application Service.

Results of the study, published online July 10 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, found 76 percent of medical schools had a dedicated radiology curriculum, usually offered in the third and fourth years. A majority (87 percent) of schools also integrated radiology education into other courses throughout all four years.

Despite some variance in the characteristics of radiology education, application rates to radiology residency programs were similar across schools, ranging from 6 percent to 8 percent, according to Kapoor and Smith. “This lack of an association may be explained by universal exposure of medical students to radiology curricula and the fact that career choice is a complex process that involves multiple factors, of which education is only one.”

The authors suggested that exposing medical students to radiology education has benefits such as increasing awareness of radiation safety and exam appropriateness.