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Why First-Year Med Students Need More Radiology Exposure

Medical school is a crucial time for developing clinical interests. However, students typically receive minimal exposure to radiological clinical practices during the first year, and this lack of imaging curriculum greatly influences their perspective of the field. A group of researchers from the University of Michigan set out to change the way medical students approach radiology by implementing a dynamic course on the specialty for first-year students. They documented their results in a study published in Academic Radiology this month.

The group of researchers led by Michael Kraft, BS, introduced a two-week radiology course for first year medical students that featured 12.5 hours of pathology and 20.5 hours of pharmacology through using a “flipped-classroom approach.” The curriculum included a two-hour chest radiography seminar, interactive patient presentations, and a “Radiology Day” which consisted of four “90-minute, case-based sessions.” Following coursework, students also watched video lectures, and did take-home quizzes and modules.

A group of 170 students were surveyed before the course and 65 were evaluated afterwards. The researchers found that students’ interest in radiology increased from 54 percent to 69 percent after taking the course, and 24 percent reported that they viewed radiology as “essential” to clinical work.

“Given that the day-to-day practice of radiology is so different in nature from other more clinical specialties, it is an area of medicine that is difficult for those without exposure to extrapolate what the practice may be like,” said the authors. “Considering that the curriculum was designed primarily as a radiology topic overview and not as a window into the career of a radiologist, even a non-significant trend toward greater career interest reflects a greater appreciation for the workings of a radiologist.”

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