Diversity among the radiologist workforce may be lacking, despite commitment from the specialty to address this issue. But one New York radiology department has found promise piloting a virtual imaging internship to target underrepresented minority medical students, experts reported Thursday.
Weill Cornell Medicine recently designed the four-week program, hoping to provide clinical exposure and allow students to better understand radiology. The course incorporated patient care sessions via videoconferencing, along with lectures, online modules, mentoring and curriculum, according to a breakdown in Academic Radiology.
First author Katerina Dodelzon, MD, and co-authors found encouraging early results. Three participants enrolled in the first clerkship, with all of them reporting “exceptional” course content and “ample” opportunities to form connections with radiologists and residents. Mentoring was cited as a particular highlight, they found through follow-up surveys.
“All indicated a significant shift in perception of the field and in declaring interest in pursuing a career in radiology,” Dodelzon and co-authors noted. “Virtual radiology internship for [underrepresented minority] students is a feasible paradigm to address potential impediments to diversification of the specialty by both engaging interested URM medical students in a career in radiology and arming them with the tools for a successful application to radiology residency,” they added.
Previous investigations have found inadequate specialty exposure, low interest in radiology, lack of role models and mentors, and bias as four of the biggest roadblocks to minority interest in imaging. Dodelzon et al. believe this novel program helped to address three of the four. Further work is needed, however, to make greater inroads on this issue.
“For the greatest impact in meaningfully changing the diversity landscape of radiology, initiatives such as our acting internship in radiology for URM students should be considered as just one component of an institution-wide commitment to diversity and inclusion at all levels,” the authors advised. “The latter, in addition to actively implementing change, is an increasingly important factor in recruiting medical students into radiology, as evidenced by our students’ feedback.”