Choosing a specialty in medicine: Female medical students and radiology

Julia R. Fielding, Nancy M. Major, Brian F. Mullan, Janet A. Neutze, Kitt Shaffer, Claire B. Wilcox, Lauren Paynter, Etta D. Pisano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there are identifiable factors that dissuade female medical students from entering the field of radiology. MATERIALS AND METHODS. An anonymous survey was completed by medical students at the end of their third- or fourth-year radiology clinical clerkships at five institutions. In addition to demographic data and residency choice, respondents ranked 10 factors in order of importance to their choice of career. For respondents who did not consider radiology a possible career, a second set of eight factors was ranked for importance in dissuading them. RESULTS. Two hundred eighty-eight respondents completed the survey, 152 (53%) men and 136 (47%) women. Both men and women reported direct patient contact and intellectual stimulation as the most important factors in deciding on a specialty. For those who chose radiology, intellectual stimulation and use of emerging technology were significantly (p < 0.05) more important than other factors. The factor that most strongly (96%) dissuaded men and women from a career in radiology was lack of direct patient contact. There was no significant difference between men and women in ranking factors that dissuaded them from applying to radiology residencies; however, nearly one third of the female respondents cited competitiveness of the residency process as important. CONCLUSION. Patient contact remains an important factor for medical students choosing a career. To attract high-caliber students, medical schools should expose students to areas of radiology involving patient interaction. Academically qualified women should be identified early during their careers and encouraged to apply for radiology residencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-900
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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