1st-year med students edified by intro to interventional radiology

Offering first-year medical students an elective introduction to interventional radiology (IR), researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and its Perelman School of Medicine have found considerable receptivity to the learning opportunity and heightened interest in the specialty.

Daniel M. DePietro, MD, and colleagues report the results of their project in an article published online Aug. 18 in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.

The team wrote four lectures on IR, scheduling each session’s timing to complement the standard dissection curriculum as it covered various anatomical structures.

Before and after the lectures, the authors sent anonymous online surveys to all 146 first-year students participating in the gross anatomy course before and after the elective IR lecture series. The students who attended no lectures served as controls.

Survey response rates were 67 percent in the pre-lecture group (n = 98) group, 55 percent in the group who attended at least one lecture (n = 22), and 28 percent in the control group (n = 30).

Reviewing the results, DePietro and colleagues found:

  • A total of 73 percent of the pre-lecture group reported little knowledge of IR compared with other specialties. This decreased to 27 percent in those who attended the lecture.
  • A total of 32 percent of those who attended believed they had more knowledge of IR than any other specialty, compared with 7 percent of controls and 2 percent of the pre-lecture group.
  • Those in attendance could name a significantly greater number of IR procedures (mean, 1.82) than the pre-lecture group (mean, 0.57).
  • A total of 64 percent of those who attended indicated they would consider a career in IR, compared with 24 percent in the pre-lecture group and 33 percent in the control group.
  • A total of 68 percent of those who attended had knowledge of the school’s IR residency, compared with 5 percent in the pre-lecture group and 33 percent in the control group.

Additionally, some 40 percent of lecture attendees said they believed the lectures had helped them master material in their anatomy course. Noting this, curriculum directors added hands-on workshops in the anatomy lab the following year. The workshops allowed the students to observe IR techniques and procedures while correlating them to dissected anatomic structures, DePietro and colleagues report.

“These workshops were well attended and well received by students, and provide another way that IR education can be incorporated into the preclinical curriculum,” they write.

“The present study demonstrates that the integration of IR education into the first-year anatomy course is a highly effective way of increasing first-year medical student exposure to IR and generating interest in the field,” the authors conclude. “Additional studies regarding effective ways to teach medical students will provide IR educators with evidence as they pursue educational initiatives within medical-school curricula and work to recruit the best and brightest students into the specialty.”