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Every year, the first of July brings with it important milestones among medical trainees. Medical students begin their training, clinical rotations or initial experience with the fear-inducing residency match (see 2016 Match Main Events). Senior medical students begin their internships and, for the radiology bound, interns become radiology interns (PGY-2), who in turn become seasoned second-year residents. And, currently, third-year residents must begin the fellowship application process (see example timeline from 2015 cycle) while simultaneously studying for the core exam (June 6–7 and June 9–10, 2016). Fourth-year residents transition to interventional fellowships and fellows begin their first real jobs as physicians.
News of a new paradigm in interventional radiology training has spread quickly since the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognized interventional radiology as a primary medical specialty. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approval of the IR Residency confirmed that traditional interventional fellowships will be phased out for the newer residency training. On July 1, 2020, traditional ACGME-accredited IR fellowships will lose accreditation.
This has led to widespread confusion within the medical trainee community. Medical students wonder how to find programs that are offering the IR Residency and worry that traditional fellowships will not be available for them (they needn’t —they will). Residents and fellows wonder how the changes will affect their certification (it won’t). Diagnostic and interventional radiology program directors wonder how to transition to the new training pathways. Thankfully, numerous resources are available to help introduce and answer these questions.
For trainees (medical students, residents and fellows), the SIR webpage has introductory information about the IR Residency. For SIR members, the recently launched virtual community, SIR Connect has a dedicated Resident, Fellow and Medical Student discussion forum to ask specific questions. Questions are reviewed and answered by IR program directors deeply invested in the new IR Residency. (Note: medical student membership is free; interested students can apply here.) Furthermore, trainees can use it as a forum to interact with like-minded future IR physicians, much like studentdoctor.net or auntminnie.com.
For diagnostic and interventional radiology program directors, a similar SIR webpage introducing the process is available and SIR Connect offers the perfect avenue for application questions. Also, two recent JACR articles1,2 offer an in-depth guide through the ACGME IR Residency application process.
As I begin my third year of residency, I’m eager and excited to see both how my personal fellowship application process pans out and how the initial IR Residencies arise. Much like the foundation on which this now primary specialty was based, confidence levels are high that program directors will find innovative ways to incorporate this new training standard.
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