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I'm going to be starting medical school in the fall. I am very interested in radiology as a specialty, but I realize how competitive it is these days. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for things I can do to make myself a more competitive candidate for getting the residency I want, besides high USMLE scores? Thanks for your input.
 

scrubswannabe

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should the OP wait for his USMLE score to be high enough before he starts research
because whats the point of doing the research if his USMLE score is too low to match in radiology?
 

slvrsmthgtr

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Well, it's good to hear that you realize high USMLE scores will be important. I recently spoke to a Radiology Residency director who stated outright that their number one selection criteria is a high score on the boards. The average for the specialty is about 235, but obviously you'll want to shoot even higher than that. If you aren't a good test taker, you may want to explore other options.

To give you a loose idea of how you might do, go to this link and plug in your MCAT score:

http://www.medfriends.org/step1_estimator/

It will predict your USMLE score (but take this with a grain of salt since the correlation between the two is debatable). Bottom line is that if you are grim and determined to be a radiologist you need to start your board prep early.

According to the aforementioned Director, board score was followed closely by research within the field of radiology, preferably with publications. Residencies are always looking to boost their prestige via on-going research and grants, thus they want residents with experience. If you are serious about this, I would not wait to start research. The only time you'll really have enough time to dedicate to a project will be in your first two years, mainly in the summer between first and second. If you were to decide later in medical school that you really want to do rads and had no research, you would be in trouble. Your only option at that point would probably be to take a year off for a research project. Just my two cents.

Another biggie will be getting letters of recommendation from prominent radiologists. You'll want to know at least three radiologists well enough for them to write you a good letter.

Interestingly the Director I talked to had little interest in extracurriculars or community service, but this may vary by program. It would obviously be a good idea to have one or two other interesting things to round out your CV.

Hope that helps.
 
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MossPoh

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It does depend on the program too. Not EVERY program is research oriented. Some just want to train competent radiologists....Just try hard and learn everything you can. Be active in stuff. If you can research do it, if not oh well. Research is actually rated pretty low on a lot of program's list because they have no idea how much you really did. A person can work on a research project for 2 years doing legit stuff but not be published while some other person can just write a bunch of lit reviews or abstracts and get published in some low impact journal.
 

ScubaV

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That's good to hear MossPoh. I too, am interested in radiology but I have zero interest in doing research. I don't care about going to a "top" program, just one that will give me a solid, well-rounded education.
 

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It does depend on the program too. Not EVERY program is research oriented. Some just want to train competent radiologists....Just try hard and learn everything you can. Be active in stuff. If you can research do it, if not oh well. Research is actually rated pretty low on a lot of program's list because they have no idea how much you really did. A person can work on a research project for 2 years doing legit stuff but not be published while some other person can just write a bunch of lit reviews or abstracts and get published in some low impact journal.
research isn't just research (which in a specialty like radiology, I guarantee will be very helpful), it's building strong connections and mentors which will yield strong personal letters and phone calls. Yes get started as soon as you can. Preclinical grades are worth nothing.
 

NAGNAM

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coming from an M3s point of view, I wish i'd done more research my first two years, and also been involved in more school groups (was a member of some, held positions in none). radiology interest group elections in the next couple weeks though, so trying to get some spots that've been held by people who are finally graduating
 

DocWiki

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should the OP wait for his USMLE score to be high enough before he starts research
because whats the point of doing the research if his USMLE score is too low to match in radiology?
No. My brother has an average USMLE and has matched Radiology. Obviously barely passing maybe not. Waiting is a bad idea though.
 

clinicallabguy

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An attending once told this to me, and it makes sense. I'm not claiming that it's doctrine, but I believe it.

Boards, research and clinical grades are important (as has been stated above), however some people get competitive residencies without stellar scores and/or great research. Some people who were screened out of the application process initially are put back in the pile and may end up matching. Why? It's like everything else in life. It's who you know!!

If you know what direction you want to go, make sure you start becoming acquainted with people in the department right away. It takes time to get to know people. The longer someone has known you and the more they've seen you the better they may be able to recommend you. This also has a pleasant side affect of getting good advice from people who have succeeded before you.
 

Labslave

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Well, it's good to hear that you realize high USMLE scores will be important. I recently spoke to a Radiology Residency director who stated outright that their number one selection criteria is a high score on the boards. The average for the specialty is about 235, but obviously you'll want to shoot even higher than that. If you aren't a good test taker, you may want to explore other options.

To give you a loose idea of how you might do, go to this link and plug in your MCAT score:

http://www.medfriends.org/step1_estimator/

It will predict your USMLE score (but take this with a grain of salt since the correlation between the two is debatable). Bottom line is that if you are grim and determined to be a radiologist you need to start your board prep early.

According to the aforementioned Director, board score was followed closely by research within the field of radiology, preferably with publications. Residencies are always looking to boost their prestige via on-going research and grants, thus they want residents with experience. If you are serious about this, I would not wait to start research. The only time you'll really have enough time to dedicate to a project will be in your first two years, mainly in the summer between first and second. If you were to decide later in medical school that you really want to do rads and had no research, you would be in trouble. Your only option at that point would probably be to take a year off for a research project. Just my two cents.

Another biggie will be getting letters of recommendation from prominent radiologists. You'll want to know at least three radiologists well enough for them to write you a good letter.

Interestingly the Director I talked to had little interest in extracurriculars or community service, but this may vary by program. It would obviously be a good idea to have one or two other interesting things to round out your CV.

Hope that helps.
I know you're trying to help out, but it's very hard from your perspective (not being in medical school yet) to give advice on preparing a competitive application for residency.

First, while MCAT scores likely have some correlation with Step 1 scores, the score estimator you posted should not be taken seriously (you kinda' pointed this out). I know many people who had great MCAT scores who did only so-so on Step 1, while many people who came in with crappy MCAT scores did incredibly well. So for those out there that didn't do spectacular on the MCAT, don't be discouraged. Here's the bottom line for Step 1: It's all dependent on how hard you're willing to work for it. Study hard in your classes during your pre-clinical years. Bust your ass for 5 or so weeks before the exam, and let the chips fall where they may. A high Step 1 score does get your foot in the door at many places, but it's not the say all end all as painted above. It's important to understand that you shouldn't feel the need to start studying for Step 1 outside of your coursework from day 1 of medical school. Just work hard in your classes. To familiarize yourself with the material, get a copy of FA and read through the chapter for each organ system you cover in second year (no need to annotate - there's enough information already there). Reading something like BRS Path or Goljan Path during second year is also a great idea and doesn't take much time.

Equally important is getting terrific clinical grades, particularly in medicine and surgery. Unless pre-clinical grades determine eligibility for AOA, they don't matter at all. Nobody cares. Getting AOA/having good grades is every bit as important as a good Step 1 score.

Radiology research isn't as important in the grand scheme of things. Although it can't hurt, there's no pressing need to get started on research from day 1. Most programs understand that radiology is something people become interested in later on in medical school. (Very few people come into med school thinking that they want to be radiologists.) There is absolutely no need to take a year off to do research in order to get into a good residency if you haven't participated in research during your first two years. If you become interested in radiology half way through third year, just try to get a project going and pump out an abstract or paper. Get a poster or presentation at a conference. Demonstrating interest in research will be important for many of the top research programs, but I think the strategy I just outlined is more than enough if you have the other pieces in place.

You should only get 1 LOR from a radiologist for your application. The other two (or three) should be from clinicians that worked with you on the wards. Radiology programs value clinical letters because that's where you have the opportunity at this stage of training to show what you're made of. The idea that you have to know three radiologists really well so that they can write you letters is absurd. Get to know one via a research project, preferably one that has a history of publishing a lot, and you're golden.

Again, I don't mean this to be a personal attack (and I commend you for trying to help others on this forum), but you should refrain from giving advice about the residency application process for now. Congrats on getting into med school. Enjoy the ride!
 
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humuhumu

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I just matched into my top choice for radiology. Labslave's advice is spot on.
 

slvrsmthgtr

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I know you're trying to help out, but it's very hard from your perspective (not being in medical school yet) to give advice on preparing a competitive application for residency.

First, while MCAT scores likely have some correlation with Step 1 scores, the score estimator you posted should not be taken seriously (you kinda' pointed this out). I know many people who had great MCAT scores who did only so-so on Step 1, while many people who came in with crappy MCAT scores did incredibly well. So for those out there that didn't do spectacular on the MCAT, don't be discouraged. Here's the bottom line for Step 1: It's all dependent on how hard you're willing to work for it. Study hard in your classes during your pre-clinical years. Bust your ass for 5 or so weeks before the exam, and let the chips fall where they may. A high Step 1 score does get your foot in the door at many places, but it's not the say all end all as painted above. It's important to understand that you shouldn't feel the need to start studying for Step 1 outside of your coursework from day 1 of medical school. Just work hard in your classes. To familiarize yourself with the material, get a copy of FA and read through the chapter for each organ system you cover in second year (no need to annotate - there's enough information already there). Reading something like BRS Path or Goljan Path during second year is also a great idea and doesn't take much time.

Equally important is getting terrific clinical grades, particularly in medicine and surgery. Unless pre-clinical grades determine eligibility for AOA, they don't matter at all. Nobody cares. Getting AOA/having good grades is every bit as important as a good Step 1 score.

Radiology research isn't as important in the grand scheme of things. Although it can't hurt, there's no pressing need to get started on research from day 1. Most programs understand that radiology is something people become interested in later on in medical school. (Very few people come into med school thinking that they want to be radiologists.) There is absolutely no need to take a year off to do research in order to get into a good residency if you haven't participated in research during your first two years. If you become interested in radiology half way through third year, just try to get a project going and pump out an abstract or paper. Get a poster or presentation at a conference. Demonstrating interest in research will be important for many of the top research programs, but I think the strategy I just outlined is more than enough if you have the other pieces in place.

You should only get 1 LOR from a radiologist for your application. The other two (or three) should be from clinicians that worked with you on the wards. Radiology programs value clinical letters because that's where you have the opportunity at this stage of training to show what you're made of. The idea that you have to know three radiologists really well so that they can write you letters is absurd. Get to know one via a research project, preferably one that has a history of publishing a lot, and you're golden.

Again, I don't mean this to be a personal attack (and I commend you for trying to help others on this forum), but you should refrain from giving advice about the residency application process for now. Congrats on getting into med school. Enjoy the ride!
To clarify: I'm an MS1. I just hadn't bothered to update my profile in the last decade or so (but look, I fixed it!) :). Lest anyone think that I am ignorant on the subject of radiology: I am an officer in my school's radiology interest group and I am currently working on two original research projects in the field.

My intention was not to relate anything as gospel, just to pass on what I heard directly from a residency director. In addition, I was intending the advice to be specifically for MD 2 B who has yet to start med school but apparently has a high level of interest in radiology. Hence my suggestion that research and prep should begin sooner rather than later. Radiology is a very competitive specialty nowadays and if it truly is what you want to do then you should begin preparing.

Obviously, it is nice to hear another perspective on the subject. And nice to see that someone takes the question seriously enough to post such a complete response.
 
D

da8s0859q

To clarify: I'm an MS1. I just hadn't bothered to update my profile in the last decade or so (but look, I fixed it!) :). Lest anyone think that I am ignorant on the subject of radiology: I am an officer in my school's radiology interest group and I am currently working on two original research projects in the field.
Well, just for the sake of pointing it out, LabSlave is an MS4 who definitely has experience with going through all of this.

Good to know that research isn't ultimately that crucial.
 

LaurenJade

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hi friends

Radiology is the branch or specialty of medicine that utilizes imaging technologies like x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs to diagnose and treat disease.

Radiologists are physicians that utilize an array of imaging technologies (such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) to diagnose or treat disease. Interventional radiology is the performance of (usually minimally invasive) medical procedures with the guidance of imaging technologies. The acquisition of medical imaging is usually carried out by the radiographer or radiologic technologist.
 

deuce924

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hi friends

Radiology is the branch or specialty of medicine that utilizes imaging technologies like x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs to diagnose and treat disease.

Radiologists are physicians that utilize an array of imaging technologies (such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) to diagnose or treat disease. Interventional radiology is the performance of (usually minimally invasive) medical procedures with the guidance of imaging technologies. The acquisition of medical imaging is usually carried out by the radiographer or radiologic technologist.
How does one get banned after 2 posts?
 

MossPoh

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research isn't just research (which in a specialty like radiology, I guarantee will be very helpful), it's building strong connections and mentors which will yield strong personal letters and phone calls. Yes get started as soon as you can. Preclinical grades are worth nothing.
Something like that also depends on the structure of the school you attend. My school doesn't have a radiology residency. We are split up into 1 of 6 different clinical rotation sites. Networking helps and research can help, but the first two years give no indication of clinical performance. A letter from someone you did research with during those first two years couldn't attest to your clinical skill. If you have opportunities and time then by all means pursue it, but as indicated by PD surveys, it isn't the end all be all of getting a spot. If I had to choose between the research and performing well on the USMLE, I'd pick the USMLE. Naturally, if I had the option to have both I would as well. ;)
 

deuce924

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This thread's a bit old, but thought I'd get more eyes on my post here than in a similar pre-med thread.

It looks like I'll be an M1 at Tulane next year and as of right now, my end goal is IR due to residents who spoke to the radiology interest group where I'm at grad school (one persuasive DIRECT pathway resident in particular).

Is it worth going home in the summer to California to do relevant research at a nearby research university (e.g. Stanford) or will they likely not publish a visiting student anyway?

Also, is it worth taking time during Winter break or Spring break to shadow Tulane/CA radiology residents? If not, when would be the best time to network since most people don't encounter rads naturally until M4.
I am finishing up my 2nd year of medical school so take this for what its worth. If you want to pursue Radiology because a persuasive resident talked to you about it than I would suggest thinking about other reasons why you like the field. As for your original question, I think research is research and if you feel like you can get a project complete over the summer and have it published than go for it. I think it may be easier at your home program because you could continue your work into the school year if needed. Also I don't see any reason why you would not be able to get published as a visiting student. As for shadowing, just do it whenever you have the time. I would not chew up my Spring break shadowing a physician when you could be on a beach somewhere. See if you could shadow them during the Summer while you are doing research considering you are going to be on campus anyway.