Radiology Education, Medical Students and an Evolving Healthcare Landscape

Monga, NatashaNatasha Monga, MD, vice chair of the American College of Radiology Resident and Fellow Section, contributed this post.

Imaging and radiologic interpretation are crucial in clinical decision making, an important concept for medical students to recognize as they pursue clinical training. It is becoming increasingly essential for physicians to develop a fundamental understanding of imaging indications, appropriate use of imaging modalities, cost effectiveness and safe utilization to provide our patients with the highest quality of care.

It is vital for medical students to pursue radiology education during their training, even for those who are non-radiology bound. In the clinical setting, radiology rotations can provide students with real-world experiences, particularly in imaging indications, limitations, contrast utilization and allergy prophylaxis. These rotations build confidence and camaraderie, ensuring that medical students feel comfortable interacting with and seeking consultation from radiologists in their future practice.

In the non-clinical setting, there are many reliable online resources available to medical students seeking imaging education and resources. The American College of Radiology® (ACR®) offers medical students the tools needed to explore the field of radiology. Medical student membership within the ACR provides opportunities for internships and scholarships such as the PIER Internship and ACR Annual Meeting Travel Scholarship, a network of practicing radiologists, mentorship and, most importantly, supplemental education curated specifically for medical students.

For example, the Radiology-TEACHES® program simulates the process of ordering imaging studies through integrated clinical decision support. The curriculum focuses on several facets of radiology, including evidence-based guidance regarding appropriateness and cost of imaging examinations. The ACR recently added the COVID-19 module to this program, allowing medical students to stay up-to-date on the imaging features of COVID-19.

The ACR continues to prioritize medical student education, as demonstrated during the ACR 2020 annual meeting. The ACR Council approved Resolution 34: Standard Early Radiology Education for Medical Students by Radiologists, which established a task force to investigate avenues for introducing all medical students to radiology education, taught by radiologists and radiation oncologists beginning in the early stages of medical school training. The task force will evaluate strategies that afford medical students early experiences and opportunities to enter the specialties of diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology and radiation oncology. In addition, they aim to expose medical students seeking a career in other specialties to develop an awareness for the essential role of radiology in the evolving healthcare landscape.

If you are a medical student interested in radiology education or in pursuit of radiology as a career, I urge you to take advantage of the tools and education available to you. These resources will help build the foundation necessary to provide the highest quality of care, independent of your specialty choice.

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