September Is Radiology Expo Month

How can you educate medical students about radiology?RadExpo

In 2015, the radiology match results brought great anxiety to our profession, with 33 percent of diagnostic radiology residency programs going unfilled.

These numbers sparked great concern about the future of our profession, and rallying cries were heard throughout many radiology professional organizations. When the 2016 match rolled around, I was very pleased to learn that the number of unfilled programs decreased to 14 percent.1

Although the match results this year were much more promising, it is critical that we maintain our vigilance in promoting radiology as a valuable specialty for both our patients and recently graduated physicians. While there is little substitute for the relationship between medical students and mentors within radiology, other mechanisms to increase exposure to radiology are also important. These include web-based vehicles like social media, as well as in-person events, such as radiology expositions.

I had the pleasure of participating in a recent radiology expo, designed and arranged by the Alliance of Medical Student Educators in Radiology and the Alliance of Clinician-Educators in Radiology, immediately following the Association of University Radiologists (AUR) meeting in San Diego. By all accounts, this was a great success, with approximately 40 interested students attending. Many elements combined to introduce medical students to the various aspects of radiology. Here’s what we learned.

Cover the Basics

The expo started with an introductory session that laid out for medical students the role radiology plays in patient care. While it’s tempting to assume medical students already know how radiology works, chances are, most have only a general idea about the specialty. By starting with an overview, you ensure that no one is left behind as you dig deeper into the specifics of radiology.

Use a Variety of Formats

In San Diego, the course organizers employed a mixture of in-person lectures and pre-recorded video clips. The variation kept everyone’s attention and engaged different learning styles. We showed videos that described what radiologists do on a day-to-day basis, what it means to be an interventional radiologist, and what state-of-the-art imaging may bring to the future of health care.

Be Direct

We all know misconceptions about radiology abound. By directly correcting misinformation, you’ll ensure that medical students walk away with a clear understanding. We held a MythBusters-style session in which radiologists dispelled two of the most common myths about radiology. Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, refuted the common belief that the job market is a major deterrent to young people entering our specialty. And Smyrna Tuburan, MD, addressed misconceptions about the practice of radiology, emphasizing patient contact and the consulting role of radiologists. Program directors in radiology residencies also conducted a panel discussion regarding important factors related to the application process.

Make It Hands-On

A series of workshops were held where students could meet with radiology program directors and mentors to gain hands-on experience with various aspects in the practice of radiology. Workshop stations included the following:
• Catheters
• Diagnostic workstations
• Ultrasound-guided biopsy
• 3-D imaging
• Rotator-cuff ultrasound imaging

Turn It Into a Game

Mahan Mathur, CM, MD, conducted a Jeopardy game, giving clues that indicated certain diseases. The correct answer produced short descriptions of radiographic manifestations of that disease. This game was very effective in capturing the attention of both the residents and faculty alike.

Don’t Forget Food

As you’re planning your expo, remember the power of food to attract attendees. We included an informal lunch, which had the added bonus of allowing students and faculty to intermix and exchange ideas. And it’s not just hungry medical students who flock to free food — faculty and other staff will also appreciate a complimentary meal (or even snack).

While such events may address the needs of only 50 to 100 medical students at one time, we could reach medical students across the country if this model were replicated in each city, town, and academic medical center that hosts a radiology residency. The AUR is doing that just that — the program and materials will soon be available for others interested in conducting similar radiology expos.

At a joint meeting of the ACR and AUR leadership, we decided to promote this concept in the month of September, which we’re declaring Radiology Expo Month. We hope the great success in San Diego will inspire similar programs across the country so medical students from east to west can enjoy firsthand exposure to the amazing opportunities that radiology has to offer.

BrinkBy James A. Brink, MD, FACR, Chair




1. Results and Data: 2015 Main Residency Match. National Resident Matching Program. Available at

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