How to establish an interventional radiology interest group (IRIG) at your school
There’s already a diagnostic radiology interest group at my school, how does this affect an IR interest group?
How can I fund an IR interest group?
How do I advertise to recruit individuals to an IRIG?
What types of educational opportunities should be offered?
How do I ensure IR interest group sustainability?
Need help setting up your IRIG or networking with other IRIGs in your region?
Want to get involved with interventional radiology on a national level?

How to establish an interventional radiology interest group (IRIG) at your school:

Do a faculty search and get in touch with interventional radiologists at your home program. Let them know what you are interested in doing. Few opportunities exist for formal exposure to IR during the first two years of medical school. Thanks to the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR), many interventional radiologists are looking to get involved with medical student education. Feedback from existing interest groups has been very positive regarding attempts to find motivated faculty mentors. Even if the faculty does not have time to give talks, they can put you in touch with residents and fellows who are willing and capable to give talks to interested medical students. Inquire within your institution’s radiology department. Many radiology departments have someone who acts as a curriculum coordinator. These individuals can be an asset in starting an interest group.

There’s already a diagnostic radiology interest group at my school-how does this affect an IR interest group?

Your relationship with radiology should be collaborative, rather than confrontational. Radiology forms the foundation of interventional radiology and will remain an integral part of your training. Here are ideas on how to coexist:

  1. Identify your own IRIG-specific faculty advisor—even if the radiology group has an advisor who is an interventional radiologist.
  2. Hold joint meetings with a variety of interest groups. In addition to radiology, IR plays an important role in aspects of surgery, ob/gyn, emergency medicine, and other specialties.
  3. Share resources and knowledge. However, it is not advised that you share officers due to conflicts of interest.
  4. Meet with the department so they are aware of two distinct interest groups.*
  5. Introduce the IR interest group early to students so they maintain a distinction between interventional and diagnostic radiology.

 

*Some schools are unwilling to support both a radiology interest group and an IR interest group at the same time. In these cases, we found it helpful to use the diagnostic radiology interest group as a means to become more IR-oriented. For example, if a group of 10 lunchtime radiology interest group lectures was composed of one IR lecture, we changed the curriculum to 4-5 out of 10 lectures focusing on sup-topics in IR.

How can I fund an IR interest group?

Schools vary widely in how interest groups are funded. Even if your school provides some financial assistance to interest groups, you may still need additional funding. Here are solutions that have worked for existing IR interest groups:

  1. Most radiology departments have funds set aside so that students can have food during lectures.
  2. Find out if the Dean’s office provides funding for student groups.
  3. Find out if different levels of student government are able to fund certain events.
  4. Partner with other interest groups to hold joint meetings on mutual topics (e.g. uterine fibroid embolization with women’s health or ob/gyn).
  5. Meet between classes, on the weekend, or in the early evening, instead of at lunch.
  6. Attach your meeting onto resident events where food/resources may already be provided.
  7. Approach the radiology department to see if any “miscellaneous funds” exist.
  8. Approach other departments or the hospital to see if they’re willing to fund a meeting (e.g. patient safety, emergency medicine, surgery, ob/gyn, internal medicine, pediatrics, diabetes awareness, women’s health).
  9. Work with faculty to integrate IR into the MS1-MS4 curriculum instead of relying on extracurricular meetings.
  10. Some student groups have also explored sponsorships by medical device companies involved with IR (e.g. Cook, Gore, Covidien, etc.).
  11. Others have had success with mailing cases to The Endovascular Forum at endovascular.org, where small cash prizes are awarded to selected cases.

 

How do I advertise to recruit individuals to an IRIG?

Now that you have some speakers and lectures, how do you get students to show up?

  1. E-mail lists – Let classmates know at least a day in advance of any upcoming meetings.
  2. In person announcements – Announce meetings the day of, during class, or before a school lecture.
  3. Facebook group – Sometimes, it is easier to include people in a radiology interest group on Facebook. This facilitates participation and communication between students from all years of training.
  4. Fairs – Many medical schools have interest group or career fairs for junior medical students. Setting up an IR interest group booth is a great way to recruit students.

 

What types of educational opportunities should be offered?

  1. Regular lectures – Existing IRIGs have had great success with lunchtime talks. In the following page of this roadmap, information will be provided on how to access lectures designed by the Society of Interventional Radiology’s Medical Student Council.
  2. Shadowing opportunities – It is strongly recommended to facilitate shadowing opportunities with interventional radiologists. While talks are educational, seeing what interventional radiologists do for a living is usually a more interesting and satisfying way for students to explore their interests in the field.
  3. Research opportunities – Research is a great way to get students involved in interventional radiology and is secondarily a valuable piece of one’s residency application. IRIG leaders are encouraged to e-mail interventional radiology faculty to see if they perform any active research and if they are interested in working with medical students. If there is mutual interest, ask them to provide some information about their work, and distribute this information to the IRIG members.
  4. Activities and Skills Labs – Another way to get students involved in IR is through practicing useful skills such as ultrasound guidance, suturing, and vascular access techniques. Inquire with your faculty advisor or surgical skills laboratory regarding available resources and time slots. Keep reading  for some ideas of potential IR activities!

 

Lectures

The following are a group of lectures specifically prepared for IR interest groups by SIR. These are closely based on the IR fellows curriculum and should serve as a guide or “roadmap” for your IRIG. This will provide an interest group with a year’s worth of lecture material and significantly cut down (or eliminate) time spent creating lectures.

  1. Intro to IR
  2. Peripheral arterial disease
  3. Interventional oncology
  4. Carotid disease
  5. Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  6. Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  7. Chronic liver disease
  8. Miscellaneous IR and trauma
  9. Leg ulcers
  10. Deep vein thrombosis
  11. IR frontiers
  12. GI bleeding
  13. Varicose veins

These slide decks are available to download HERE.

Activities and Skills Lab

Studies have repeatedly shown that people learn best through active learning and being engaged with the subject material. Having hands-on activities and skills lab is an excellent way to immerse students into the fascinating and exciting world of IR. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Hands-On with the IR Tool Box – Have a box filled with different catheters, wires, balloons, stents, etc. for the students to hold and sort through. This will help them learn the terminology of the many different tools at the interventional radiologist’s disposal. In addition, encourage them to thread wires through the catheter and inflate balloons to familiarize them with the tactile feel of IR.
  2. Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy Skills Lab – To simulate performing a breast nodule biopsy, place a piece of chicken breast on top of a pimento stuffed olive. Then, use an ultrasound probe and a spring-loaded biopsy needle to take a biopsy with the olive as a target.
  3. Seldinger Technique Skills Lab – To stimulate performing the Seldinger technique, place a piece of chicken breast on top of a stiff straw. Then, use the ultrasound probe and a hollow bore needle to try to gain access into the “artery.”

 

How do I ensure IR interest group sustainability?

A continuity plan is important to the success of any interest group—especially for a specialty that historically does not have strong support within an average first-year medical school class. Without steady interest from incoming students, sustaining the group falls to faculty, residents, and graduating medical students. Here are some ideas that have worked with existing IRIGs:

  1. Encourage officers to stay on through their second-year.
  2. Ask former officers to advise the group’s new officers.
  3. Ask the faculty or resident advisor to keep track of the group.
  4. Ask advisors to fill out a survey each year about what worked well, what didn’t, what should be changed.
  5. Identify interested first-year students early and elect them to serve as junior officers.
  6. Use junior officers to schedule meetings around their exams/obligations.
  7. Encourage face-to-face meetings, rather than exchanging emails.
  8. Create group bylaws.

 

Need help setting up your IRIG or networking with other IRIGs in your region?

Sometimes students setting up an IRIG can run into challenges not mentioned in this roadmap. Other times, it just helps to know what other resources are available in your region, or if there are nearby IRIGs that are worth collaborating with for holding regional symposiums or conventions. You can check our IRIG section on the RFS website to see who are your local contacts nearby (http://rfs.sirweb.org/medical-student-section/medical-student-interest-groups/) or what medical student symposia are in your area (http://rfs.sirweb.org/medical-student-ir-symposia/)!

You can directly email SIR’s Medical Student Council (sir.students@gmail.com) or the IRIG Committee (sir.msc.irig@gmail.com) if you have any questions or need advice.Our goal is to make integration of IR education into your school as easy as possible. Let us know how we can help! We will do our best to help you!

Want to get involved with interventional radiology on a national level?

Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) – the professional society for interventional radiology has a number of social media channels:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

Annual SIR Conference – attend the dedicated medical student days that offer talks and workshops geared towards medical students interested in interventional radiology. Admission is free if you are a member of SIR (and SIR membership is free for medical students).

  • Also, look around for regional or international conferences that you and your classmates could potentially attend to get excited about IR before and after the Annual Meeting! You can pursue a non-exhaustive list here on the RFS website under research & conference opportunities.

 

Medical Student Council – this is a group of medical students operating under SIR that is focused on increasing awareness of interventional radiology nationwide. The council has a specific committee dedicated to IRIG growth, if this is an area that interests you! Projects include setting up and coordinating IR interest groups, education, outreach, and research. This is a great way to get involved in interventional radiology on a national level!

Information about getting involved and applying for the Medical Student Council is available on the RFS website. If you have further questions, however, feel free to email MSC at sir.students@gmail.com.