Radiology Medical Student Education: An Outcome-based Survey of PGY-1 Residents

Authors: Arnold Saha, MD, R. Andrew Roland, BS, Matthew S. Hartman, MD, Richard H. Daffner, MD

Rationale and Objectives

Postgraduate year (PGY)-1 residents are frequently required to order imaging studies and make preliminary interpretations on them. This study determines whether PGY-1 residents feel their radiology education in medical school sufficiently trained them for the clinical responsibilities of internship.

Materials and Methods

This multicenter, institutional review board–approved survey asked PGY-1 trainees three categories of questions: 1) extent of medical school training for ordering and interpreting imaging studies, 2) confidence levels in ordering appropriate imaging studies and making common/emergent diagnoses, and 3) rating the importance of radiologic interpretation by interns. Respondents also submitted ideas for medical school teaching topics deemed most useful for interns.


A total of 175 questionnaires were returned with good representation across specialties. Although 63.7% of interns were frequently asked to independently preview radiology studies, 12.6% received no formal radiology training in medical school. Participants rated chest radiographs as the most important study for interns to competently interpret (93.4% reporting very or extremely important). However, only 60.2% of interns reported high confidence in recognizing common/emergent pulmonary findings, and 56.3% for evaluating line and tube position. With regard to ordering imaging studies, 81.0% had never used or never heard of the American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria®. Only 33.1% had high confidence in knowing when to order oral/intravenous contrast. Similar low percentages had high confidence identifying and premedicating contrast allergies (36.4%) and knowing risk factors of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (13.2%).


PGY-1 residents feel that medical school curriculum emphasizing interpretation of chest radiographs and ordering appropriate imaging studies would better prepare students for the responsibilities of internship.