Senior Medical Student Attitudes Toward Radiology and Confidence in Their Imaging Skills

Date

2019-03-05

Authors

Smith, Spencer MD
Jafri, Saad

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Abstract

Purpose: Most medical students do not receive formal radiology training until clinical rotations which is taught in the context of medicine/surgery, or during an elective rotation that is not a part of the core curriculum, leading to young physicians who are sub-optimally prepared to interpret imaging studies. In addition, other physicians’ attitudes towards radiology may be biased by a lack of early exposure to radiologists during medical school. This study is designed to determine senior medical student attitudes toward radiology and their radiology skills confidence levels both prior to and following an elective radiology clerkship in an effort to improve radiology instruction. We hypothesize that a radiology clerkship will positively impact students’ attitudes towards radiology as well as increase their confidence in their own imaging skills. Methods: 4th-year TCOM medical students enrolled in an elective radiology clerkship were sent anonymous online pre and post-clerkship survey via email 2 weeks before the start of their clerkship and 2 weeks after conclusion of the clerkship. The 4-week course covered more than the basics of diagnostic radiology that graduating students should know in preparation for internship. Responses were restricted to 1 per student. Results: 17/25 students enrolled in the February 2019 radiology clerkship responded (68%). At the time of this abstract, only a pre-clerkship survey was conducted. Students were, on average, not confident in their overall image interpretation skills (2.47/5). However, students had higher confidence interpreting plain radiographs (2.94/5) as opposed to computed tomography scans (2.06/5, p = 0.0096). Regarding student attitudes towards radiology, most found radiology to be “interesting in its own right” (58.8%). In addition, students found having a basic working knowledge of radiology important (52.9%) and vitally important (47.1%) in becoming a competent doctor. Finally, students reported that radiology findings often (52.9%) and very often (41.2%) change patient care. Conclusion: The pre-clerkship survey results demonstrate that fourth-year medical students at TCOM lack confidence in their ability to interpret imaging studies. However, they regard radiology as quite important to the contemporary practice of medicine. An identical post-clerkship survey will be offered to the original survey respondents to determine the impact of a didactic radiology clerkship on pre-existing student impressions.

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