Warm'n fuzzy: Location- you'll be there for 4-5 years, make sure you and your spouse/S.O. will be happy. Is it close to family, friends, and your support network? Esprit de corps- Can you work with that group of residents for 4-5 years? Do the residents socialize outside of work? Are most married or single? (sucks to be the only single resident) Are there other women in the residency? (there can be resentment you are the only female resident, get pregnant, the others have to pick up your work vs if there are several female residents who are more understanding-- just stating an observation.) Vibe- sometimes things just click and you know its the right place! The practical: Reputation of program: It matters, sort of... The most important thing in becoming a good radiologist is for you to get solid training and do a lot of reading and self-study (there is simply too much information for lecturers spoon feed you everything there is to know.) The most important thing in landing a good job is your reputation during your residency which will be revealed in your 'file' or in your letters of reference. If you have a rep for being pleasant to work with, knowledgeable, hardworking and EFFICIENT (can you get the work done quickly with accuracy?) your reputation will preceed you and you should have no problem landing a good job. However, if you plan to work a very competitive market or plan to have career at a top academic program, it always helps to have a good pedigree. 2-3 years ago the radiology shortage was so dire that it didn't matter at all where you went, you could get a job almost anywhere. The shortage has abated somewhat. There are still plenty of lucrative jobs in the less popular/underserved areas, but if you want a good job in a saturated market, any edge you have will help. Again, the most important thing is to get solid training and to have a good reputation and letters of recommendation. If you come from a lower tier academic or community program with supportive letters, you should still have no problem getting a good job. If you come from a top place, but your references suggest you are difficult to work with or are lazy, you'll have a tough time getting hired anywhere. Being from a community program won't necessarily hurt you, but academic programs tend to have better reputations, FWIW. If you come from a no name program and you feel you have deficiencies in some areas and you want to land a job in a competitive market or high level academics, no worries..... you can do a 1 year fellowship at a well-known place to help buff up your CV. However, its easier to land a top fellowship if you are from a top residency in the first place. Variety and number of cases: This should be obvious. look for a place which offers a wide variety and a large number of cases. Usually the best mix is at an academic program with an affiliation with a large public/county hospital and/or a VA hospital and/or (if you're lucky) a children's hospital. This may mean a larger work load, but the more you see, the more experience you get, the better off you'll be in the long run. Its better to see a bizarre or tough case in residency and say later on 'yeah, I've seen on of those before!', than to see something crazy for the first time in private practice and be totally clueless and unhelpful to the clinician. Along the same vein: MRI and cardiac cases... OK folks, the next generation of radiologists absolutely has to be comfortable with MRI! Specifically ask what kind and how much dedicated MRI experience you get. The more, the better. How much MRI do you get during neuro rotations? MSK rotations, Body (GU/GI) rotations? 15 years ago, people did fellowships in cross sectional imaging (CT/US/MRI) but those are all routine by now. If you don't want to get left behind in the near future, you need to be comfortable reading MRIs. If the program is weak in MR, you can do a fellowship in MR or MSK later on, but these fellowships are the most competitive fellowships to get currently, so don't count on it. Cardiac imaging: CTA of the coronaries and MR perfusion will probably be mainstream for the radiologist in the future, and is being emphasized on the radiology board exams. Not all programs offer cardiac CTA, Perfusion MR at this time, but if the program does, its a good thing. Faculty: Its always nice to have well-known faculty that wrote the book in a certain subject area. However as many of you know by now, being a big name in research does not necessarily translate into having an apptitude for teaching. Just because Famous Seamus, MD is at your residency doesn't mean you will necessarily get to read out with him on a regular basis, as he/she may spend the majority of time with the fellows, or away giving visiting lectures. Faculty turn over is a fact of life. Its hard to retain people in academics when private practices are offering 2-3x the salary of the academic places. Just make sure the program you are looking at has at least more than on subspecialist in each of the core areas. Do you they have fellowship trained full time Neuro/Neuro IR, IR, MSK attendings? Do you have dedicated full time faculty in pediatrics, thoracic, GU, GI, nuclear medicine, mammography etc? Or does most of your staff cover everything? (Jack of all trades,master/teacher of none) Equipment: EVERY program should be fully PACS by now, and may even be upgrading to a next generation PACS. It should not be the deal maker, but not being fully PACS should raise a red flag. PACS, with its idiosyncrasies, still makes life a hell of a lot easier than reading from hard copy films. As far as systems go, I know that Stentor, Dominator, and Centricity are great systems. Again, not a big deal. Even some very good institutions won't have the newest latest and greatest machines, so don't sweat this too much. But its nice, but by no means necessary, to have 3T magnets and a 64 slice CT scanners. CT/PET fusion should be at most institutions by now. The bare minimum: Multiple 16 (or greater) slice CTs and 1.5 T magnets. Fellows/Fellowship placement: A lot of fellowships are not terribly too competitive to get, and the majority of graduating residents are doing fellowships. If you hear that a person got a fellowship at a MGH, take it with a grain of salt. What was the subspecialty was the fellowship in? and where? Realize that the ivy institutions may have an impressive name for undergrad or med school, but they are not necessarily the top places for radiology fellowships. MRI and MSK are the toughest fellowships to get these days, so if a program places a lot of residents in these areas, thats a good sign. But then again, not every graduating senior wants or needs to do an MRI or MSK fellowship. Everything else is not that competitive. A paid MSK fellowship at UCSD with Resnick is impressive, thoracic imaging at MGH-- less so (no offense to the thoracic fellow at MGH, if your reading this). A case has also been made that an institution with too many fellows will take away from the residents and a place without fellows means more subspecialty cases for the resident. This may or may not be true, just realize that a some of of the top fellowships fill internally, so if it helps to be at an institution with a good fellowship in an area you think you might be interested in. Board pass rates: This should go without saying. Ask how the program helps prepare residents for physics, writtens, oral boards. A lot of programs have structured physics lectures preceding the physics board. Many have recall libraries and/or give time off to study for writtens. Many programs will send residents to a review coarse for oral boards. If a program consistently has problems passing residents on any of the above, it should raise a red flag. As far as oral boards its desirable to have all seniors pass 'outright' rather than to have a 'conditional' pass. Call: A lot of programs are switching to a night float system, in which you take a week or 2 of night float per year. These programs tend to have have 24 hour in house attendings to read out with. Programs with traditional overnight call will give you the post call day off. But before you leave in the morning, most require you to review and dictate with an attending, the studies that you gave preliminary interpretations on, on call. I like this system because it gives you a little autonomy and builds confidence. Between the time the attending leaves at night and comes in the morning, YOU are one making the call, and you get to see if you were right or not in the morning. Also with the post call day off, you can moonlight! Most programs have no call the first 6 months of R1 and no call the last 6 months of R4 so that seniors have time to study for oral boards. You tend to take more calls the first year, and less as you advance. Other details to inquire about: Salary (duh), academic appointment? (gives you added perks of a university staff), free food on call, book fund, vacation (most programs will give 15 working days plus an unofficial week around Christmas- so effectively 4 weeks), how much money do they give you for AFIP (its tough to afford 6 weeks of rent, fuel and food in DC), most programs will send you to RSNA once for free and one conference for free, and others for free if you present a paper. Parking? Health benefits? Dental? Subsidized housing (if you live in Manhattan?) Moonlighting opportunities, be tactful the way you ask this question-- is it allowed, is there built-in moon lighting? Moonlighting can substantially augment your salary your final years and give you good real world experience. Thats all I can think of at the moment. I encourage other residents to add anything I may have left out or clarify things.