By Amy K. Patel, MD
Since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, new and innovative ways have had to be devised to connect with people in the field of radiology, the house of medicine, and beyond. The same is true for medical students applying to pursue radiology.
To address this issue, many radiology residency programs began implementing virtual open houses as a way for potential candidates to learn about the residency program and meet faculty and residents. I am proud to say that at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), we implemented virtual open houses in 2020 and 2021 under the guidance of our incredibly motivated radiology resident leaders.
Programs vary when it comes to the virtual open house structure, the point person(s) for organizing, and the timing. At UMKC, the radiology residency typically conducts its virtual open house in August before the application cycle, and we have a panel composed of our program director, one or two additional faculty, and three to five residents, including our senior and junior chief residents.
Our format consists of an overview by the program director and then a question-and-answer period. A faculty member begins by asking the rest of the panel preformulated questions, which helps keep the flow more conversational and relaxed, and then addresses additional questions from medical students in attendance. We make it easy to sign up, offering a QR code on the flyer that we share via social media and to our UMKC Radiology Medical Student Interest Group for widespread email dissemination.
We conduct the virtual open house via Zoom, which is an easy platform to navigate, especially because many of us have become familiar with it during the pandemic.
Our attendance doubled from the first year we held the open house to this year, highlighting how medical students are realizing the importance of going to virtual events in light of the pandemic. For medical students, attending a virtual open house can be a great way to make oneself visible; with the advent of virtual interviews, the interview cycle is becoming increasingly competitive.1 Often, faculty who participate in a virtual open house will be actively involved in interviewing candidates. Thus, when several candidates are being interviewed, it can be helpful for medical students to use the virtual open house to provide an extra reminder of who they are.
I encourage any residency programs that are on the fence about implementing a virtual open house to strongly consider attempting one. It can be mutually beneficial for medical student candidates to get to know your program and for you to fill your residency positions. (UMKC filled 100% of its positions in 2020.) For medical students who might not have considered your program based on geographic location and lack of familiarity, the open house could be the differentiator that encourages them to apply. Furthermore, many residency programs are willing to help other programs get started if the task seems daunting.
We are all here to help because we are trying to achieve the same goal: ensuring that the future of radiology is a bright and prosperous one, and that begins with recruiting the best and brightest that the house of medicine has to offer.
Dr. Patel is medical director at Liberty Hospital’s Breast Care Center, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine (UMKC), and clerkship director of UMKC’s Breast Radiology Medical Student Rotation. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter at @amykpatel.
- Moran S, Nguyen H, Grimm L, et al. Should Radiology Residency Interviews Remain Virtual? Results of a Multi-Institutional Survey Inform the Debate. Acad Radiol. 2021. Article in Press. https://www.academicradiology.org/article/S1076-6332(21)00491-8/fulltext.