Top 5 Criteria for Choosing a Radiology Residency

Today we’re going to change gears a little bit, and I’m going to tell you a little bit of my perspective on making your rank list. I’ve done a radiology residency, I’ve seen several different programs, so I have some perspectives. Check out the video and read more below.

We’re gonna do the top 5 things. We’ll do them in reverse.

#5 Reputation

I’d be lying if I said reputation doesn’t matter, but there is a reason it’s 5th. Ultimately, the reputation of a place is going to help or hurt you when you apply for fellowships, jobs, etc. People are always going to ask where you did your training.

However, one of the main reasons this is important is that the programs that have top reputations have all the other things that they need. Faculty, dedicated teaching and lecture time, supportive program directors. They also have the best fellowship. So, in some ways, it’s just a correlation.

That said, I don’t think there is that much difference between a top #5 program and a top #20 program. Same goes for #20 and number #50. Most radiology programs are pretty good and will get you where you need to be.

#4 Geography

Geography is super important to most people. That is, they have an idea where they want to live, and all things equal, they will take a program that’s in the region they want to stay in. It’s super important to be near family, with your spouse, and in a region where you have support. Also, the culture can be somewhat different, so it’s good to go a place where you feel comfortable.

#3 Independent experience

This definitely has evolved over time, but I think you want to find a place where at least some semblance of an independent call experience is maintained. That is, you want to be the person who is making the call that guides decision-making. The added stress of this definitely helps you learn and become a great radiologist, and it exposes a lot of weaknesses that you can work on.

A lot of programs now have overnight faculty. Depending on how it’s done, that can be fine. Most of the time you want to be working independently alongside the faculty, who may be at another location or at home. That way, you’re the one answer the questions. What you don’t want is a recreation of the daytime experience in the middle of the night. If you’re previewing a stack of cases and then you read them out with the faculty before dictating them, you might at as well be at home.

#2 Range of experiences

Ideally, you want a residency that prepares you for the whole range of experiences. That mainly falls into two categories. First, you want a place that prepares you for private practice and academic radiology. You may not know what you want to do and ultimately your job may fall somewhere in between, so you want to be prepared for everything. You want to be fast and efficient so you are ready for a busy private practice environment. You want to have some ability to implement and develop new techniques. These skills cross over and will help you in both environments.

It’s also great to have a strong scope of experiences that cross all the anatomic subspecialties. If you have strong faculty in neuroradiology, chest imaging, abdomen, breast, then you are learning from the best teachers and examples. This keeps the most doors open for you and makes it easier and more fun to learn.

A correlate to this is a wide range of hospitals. It’s nice if you have a public hospital, a private hospital, and a children’s hospital. However, this is a little less important.

#1 Resident culture

This one is a hard one to measure, but ultimately it is super important. You want to find a place where the residents are happy, supportive, and fell like the program is designed in a way that mostly benefits residents. These are going to be your colleagues through 4 or more tough years, so it’s best if you like them.

This often translates to good relationships between residents and faculty. If there is a culture of positive interactions with faculty, that likely means the faculty are happy and there to support residents.

So, what are some things that aren’t on the list:

  • Fellowship match
  • Call schedule (at least the specifics of it)
  • Strength of an individual program
  • Individual faculty, including program director


So, what’s important?

  • Reputation
  • Geography
  • Resident independence
  • Range of experiences
  • Resident culture