Can you apply to DR with only an IR sub-internship on your transcript?

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Ray D. Ology

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Aug 15, 2020
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Hello and thank you in advance for answering my questions!

MS3 here - I recently enjoyed a short rotation in DR and IR and am starting to think about residency applications for next cycle. I'm sold on Diagnostic Radiology but haven't ruled out IR yet. I now have to decide what kind of sub-internship to take. I'd like to take the IR sub-i (since there is no DR sub-i at my school), but I was wondering how this would look if I end up applying to DR only. Can you apply to DR programs without a medicine/surgery sub-i on your transcript? Would any DR programs have a problem with an applicant that only has an IR sub-i?

If I need to do another sub-i besides IR to match DR, could it be in a surgical subspecialty or does it have to be general surgery/medicine? My favorite rotation on clerkships other than DR was ortho and I could see myself enjoying the ortho sub-i. As you may be able to tell, I generally would like to avoid taking a sub-i in medicine or gen surg if possible. And if I can get away with it, doing the IR sub-i only would be my preference.

So what do you think? IR sub-i only, IR + Ortho, or IR + gen surg/medicine?

Thanks again for the words of wisdom!

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I would do the one that is a rigorous and well-run sub-I and out of which you will most likely get a strong letter.

For example, I liked medicine more than IR, knew I was good at medicine based on clerkships, and elected to do a medicine sub-I. Even if I had liked ortho (I did not take it), I knew the ortho sub-I was highly competitive to even land a spot in a desired block (there was a lottery) and I would piss off my (many) ortho classmates if I took one. On top of that I feared that ortho attendings would favor the students who were going into ortho, as such personal advocacy is important in that field. They also have to maintain some semblance of rigor and it is (in my fear, not sure if founded) to maintain a histogram by deflating the grade of the student who is not going into your field. Ortho is specialized enough that not many non-ortho students would do an ortho sub-I. In comparison, many other specialty-bound students do a medicine or general surgery sub-I, so it is already routine for the medicine attendings to take such students. The local politics at your school may be different and I would consult locally.
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Thank you @Cognovi for your response! After talking to some 4th years at my school, they don't think it would piss anyone off to also take the Ortho sub-i on top of IR. There tend to be enough sub-i spots for everyone, and many people do sub-i's in multiple subspecialties. That being said, I'd prefer to not rock any boats if I don't have to. Additionally, doing two sub-i's and schmoozing two sets of attendings and residents sounds painful. After reading your response and talking to people at my school, I'll likely just do the IR sub-i.

Anyone else have any insight about applying to DR with an IR sub-i only? Does DR want to see more than just IR?
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Can you apply to DR with only an IR sub-internship on your transcript?​

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I don't think they even care about having any kind of sub-I on your transcript, unless you need clinical letters (I didn't apply with one). I think as long as you have some kind of radiology rotation third or fourth year you'll be fine, but even that isn't necessary.
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