By Melvin Mui
Radiology is a field to which not many medical students get exposed. We often have the opportunity to look at our own patients’ images while on the floors or in clinic; however, it is rare to have direct experience in the reading room. This field of medicine is often unseen by medical students despite the fact that medical imaging plays a role in the care of almost every patient in the hospital.
Many people who pursue radiology state that their dedicated radiology electives were highly impactful in their choice of specialty. Having dedicated one-on-one time with a practicing radiologist helped solidify my decision to pursue radiology. I also give credit to the hours I spent in the emergency department and on the general medicine floors, where my interest in radiology was initially sparked. These environments helped contribute to my decision by providing not only exposure to the field, but also the opportunity to see the impact of radiology on patient care.
Prior to medical school, I worked as a nursing assistant and ED scribe. Especially in the ED, I saw how radiology guided much decision making and planning. As a medical student, there were times we sat passenger to the practitioners as they devised a plan and discussed management. However, during my third-year ED rotation, my preceptor urged me to diagnose and formulate a workup for patients on my own. This required reading and studying radiological images before the official reports were published. This was my first taste of the complexity and challenging nature of diagnostic radiology. I was captivated by the task of identifying the abnormality in radiological images and connecting it with the clues gathered by the rest of the healthcare team.
From the ED, I went into my inpatient medicine rotation. Throughout the rotation, I sought more opportunities to read scans before the radiology report and try to devise my own assessment and plan. It quickly became clear that radiology reports provide a huge amount of influence and guidance to medical management. I found it amazing that the next 10 steps in management would be formulated from just a couple of images of a patient’s chest.
On one occasion, I had the opportunity to sit with the in-house radiologists and see them go through their unique search patterns and thought processes. I saw the attending’s passion and excitement when examining imaging from a variety of modalities. Each image was a new puzzle that they were invested in solving and was vital to providing quality care. Working alongside other physicians to solve a complex, three-dimensional puzzle was rewarding. It was fascinating seeing how the field of radiology encompasses pathology, physiology, and anatomy and requires detailed understanding of each system. I believe that seeing this side of medicine is crucial in sparking the interest of medical students about the vast field of radiology while also being impactful for those going into other specialties.
Melvin Mui will be a fourth-year medical student at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine starting in July. He was born and raised in New Jersey and earned his bachelor’s degree in cellular biology and neuroscience from Rutgers University. Besides school-related work, he has recently been trying to perfect a hot sauce recipe while compiling a family cookbook, incorporating his love for cooking and photography. He also enjoys going to the gym and playing golf and basketball.
Melvin was invited to share his opinions using this forum. Edits by ABR staff were made for style or clarity.