Question About Changing From Pathology:
I am a pathology intern halfway through the year. Now, I am certain that I have made a terrible mistake. Radiology was my dream residency throughout medical school. However, due to my spouse and I entering the couple’s match, I convinced myself that pathology was a better strategic option. I deeply regret not following my interests. And, now I feel that I may be trapped in this field forever wishing I would have stayed my first course. I have no academic limitations that would have prevented me from being accepted into radiology had I applied. My question for you: Would it be possible to switch from pathology to radiology? And if so, how would you recommend I approach this difficult situation? Thank you very much for your time and advice.
Stuck in Pathology
It is still possible to switch into radiology. All is not lost. But, it will involve an extra couple of years of residency, at least. Unfortunately, the ACGME has changed the rules for what counts as a clinical year for radiology residency. At one time, pathology counted toward the “clinical year.” As per the ACGME, you would need to take another internship year in either preliminary medicine, preliminary surgery, ob-gyn, emergency medicine, neurology, or a transitional clinical year.
The biggest problem that you may encounter, assuming that you have not applied this year already, is that you will have to wait until the following year to apply to both prelim medicine and radiology. That will give you two years in pathology. When you take that third year of preliminary medicine, you will have already had three years of residency before radiology residency. Due to Medicare funding issues, some programs may not have funding for your entire time in residency. Some programs will care about that more than others. But, it shouldn’t prevent you from applying.
The Good News
However, at least you have a spot in a pathology program right now. So, if you applied for both a clinical year and a radiology slot at the same time, and if you didn’t get into a program, you would still have your current pathology residency position available as a backup. So, if you still desire radiology, it is worth a try regardless of the “funding issues.” It’s a bit of a longer path for you to get into a radiology residency, but certainly not impossible.
Also, I would recommend getting to know the radiology department faculty at your current institution by completing an elective rotation or stopping by to talk to the program directors. If they like you, that may also help to get you an interview and recommendations for radiology residency. Knowing someone personally is always better than a blind bid for a residency slot.