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Acad Radiol. 2008 Oct;15(10):1331-9. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2008.03.015.

The long-term impact of preclinical education on medical students' opinions about radiology.

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Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



It has been previously shown that integrating radiology teaching into the first year of medical education has an immediate positive effect on medical students' attitudes toward the practice of radiology. The purpose of this study is to determine whether these changes in attitude persist through the clinical years of training and whether preclinical exposure to radiology has a long-term effect on medical students' opinions about radiology and radiologists.


The first-year medical curriculum at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine was revised between the 2003 and 2004 academic years, with 2.5 hours of additional radiology lectures integrated into the existing preclinical coursework. Additionally, radiology consult sessions were integrated into problem-based learning sessions. An initial survey was administered in the preclinical years of training to assess first-year medical students' attitudes toward radiology before and after the changes to the curriculum. A follow-up survey was administered before graduation to determine whether the changes in attitude revealed in the first survey persisted throughout the remaining years of training, and to assess students' opinions about negative radiologist stereotypes. Students who had undergone the revised curriculum were compared to students who had undergone the traditional curriculum.


There were statistically significant differences between the two graduating classes in terms of interest in, and perceptions of, the field of radiology. At graduation, students exposed to the revised preclinical curriculum with a greater exposure to radiology had a greater interest in radiology as a discipline and were more likely to have taken senior electives in radiology. These graduating students were also less likely to agree with negative stereotypes about radiologists.


Dedicated medical student teaching from an academic radiologist during the first year of medical school has a positive, long-lasting effect on medical students' attitudes toward radiology. The prevalence of negative stereotypes about radiologists among graduating medical students can be reduced by appropriate teaching of radiology in the preclinical years of medical school.

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