Diagnostic Radiology Residency Overview

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Diagnostic Radiology covers the interpretation of medical images and the carrying out of various image-guided procedures. It therefore covers X-Rays, CTs, MRIs, mammography, ultrasounds, as well as other forms of scan less commonly encountered like PET or SPECT. Radiologists can often face a relatively heavy workload during Residency, despite perhaps having less patient contact than others, which is reflected in the salaries for residents, with a starting wage of more than $50,000, and a senior radiologist making as much as $490,000 in some areas. Of course this will vary based on extra certifications, work experience, and workplace.

Residency Core Requirements

The core requirement for Diagnostic Radiology residencies is a minimum of five years of postgraduate education in an accredited program. These five years must include one preliminary year of training in clinical medicine (which could be a transitional year, internal medicine, or general surgery typically), followed by four years of training in Diagnostic Radiology itself. There are a range of subspecialties available, including abdominal, cardiothoracic, endovascular surgical neuroradiology, musculoskeletal radiology, nuclear radiology, pediatric radiology, vascular and interventional radiology, and neuroradiology.

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Application Statistics & Competition

According to the 2021 NRMP Residency Data Report, 118 of a total of 989 diagnostic radiology applicants failed to match successfully – meanwhile the programs themselves had a fill rate of 96.7%, showing that they are intensely competitive. This is further borne out by 2022 data, which found that there were a total of 1232 applicants for 1146 spots, or 1.08 applicants per position. 911 US MD Seniors applied, and 153 of them failed to match. Considering US DO Seniors, 253 applied and 169 matched, making a 67% match percentage. Radiology should therefore be seen as a relatively accessible field for osteopathic medical students. In terms of mean scores, USMLE Step 1 mean score for those matched was 245, and for Step 2 the mean score was 253. A Step 1 score of 200 would result in a match probability of just 55%, whilst a Step 1 score of 240 would result in a match probability of 90%. Radiology is therefore relatively competitive, but not amongst the very most competitive residencies.

Sample Interview questions

It’s good to note that this is a field in which osteopathic students are much more likely to match than certain other disciplines. Equally, one must bear in mind that it remains relatively competitive for both MD and DO students, and the residency itself is considered to be fairly intense in terms of working hours and pressure, despite the lesser patient contact when compared to other fields. Of course, remember that your first year will likely be high pressure and very varied as you attempt to learn as much core clinical knowledge as possible.

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Important considerations

It’s important to note that anaesthesiology is a relatively competitive field, so you will need strong scores to ensure that you match. DO students aren’t at a huge disadvantage, but they will be significantly less likely to match than MDs. However, if you are successful, then simply completing the Residency – even without any further postgraduate training – will guarantee you both a rewarding career and a very high salary. 

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