Spotlight Interview: Matching in Radiology

From Hartford Hospital

A Radiology Resident’s Perspective:

From an interview with an radiology resident from New York City, NY

Part of an interview series entitled, “Specialty Spotlights“, which asks medical students’ most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.


  • How competitive is the radiology match?

Last year (2011) it wasn’t even specified as “competitive” by the NRMP. However, in general, radiology is a popular choice. I considered myself a consistent but average medical student, and had no trouble getting plenty of interviews. Be realistic with your choices, and don’t think about of the cost of your application. If you are feeling insecure, cast a wide net and spend some time asking yourself what really matters in a program.


  • What are residencies looking for in a radiology applicant?
Well first of all, board scores. It is the first screen they put all candidates through. But you were already going to do your best, weren’t you? Once you have the interview, just try to be amiable and show good communication skills. Don’t be too forward, arrogant, or serious. This is all opinion but I don’t think your potential as a radiologist can be divined by an interview. They are just looking for someone they wouldn’t mind sharing space with for 4 years! Try to relax and enjoy it.


  • What do you wish you knew before application/interview season?  

If you know you are going to rank a place at the bottom of 10 or more programs, consider cancelling your interview.


  • What should students look for in a radiology residency?

I will only mention what is most important: Find the residents, talk to all of them, and ask yourself if you would enjoy seeing them every day. Sure, the upper levels will be gone by the time you get there, but the environment you see will not be much different.


  • What other advice do you have for students applying to radiology residency?

You have made the right choice. You will match. Anyone who says anything different (e.g. co-interviewees) knows nothing about it and is probably just trying to get inside your head for petty reasons. Don’t let them succeed… spend your time talking with positive, supportive friends and family. Use advisors. If yours is unhelpful or cannot answer your questions, find an ‘unofficial advisor’ who can cheer you on. They need not be radiologists. They should not be hard to find, the good ones are usually very involved with students.


Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the Match, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .



  1. Michael

    I love radiology. But one thing that's difficult is the poor job prospects. Almost everyone is planning to do a fellowship (if not two fellowships) to hopefully give them the edge in the job hunt. Sure, it's true jobs are tightening up for a lot of specialties, but few so tight as radiology. Maybe only pathology has it worse than radiology. Just check out auntminnie.com or the radiology forum over on SDN.

    A less serious but still serious problem is rads is not exactly a lifestyle field. Not anymore. It's still a lot better than having to deal with inpatients. It's still a lot better than lots of other specialties. But "lifestyle" is not what it was once. For example, the pace is ridiculous. You just have to read image after image after image each day. Expect 100-150 images per day. Many of which could land you into legal trouble if you miss something. As others have said, it's like trying to find all the Waldos in each image, and if you miss one, since the radiograph is forever stored and easily accessible in the future, you could be liable to a law suit. Anyway, at the end of the day, you're mentally exhausted. On the plus side, at least you're not standing on your feet all day like surgeons. So expect far more work, at a far faster clip, longer hours, often weekends and nights, etc. for similar (if not reduced) pay. Med students considering radiology should at least go in with their eyes wide open. Spend some time with radiologists in private practice, not academia where the pace is slower.

    1. Andrew

      Thank you, Michael, your input is appreciated. It is true, as an ophthalmology resident working many nights, I know that even the “ROAD” specialties can be very demanding.

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