For those of you that read my recent article during the interview season called From The Trenches! How Competitive Is Diagnostic Radiology For The 2021 Match?, you will know that my crystal ball was on target. Just take a look at the following NRMP match statistics to confirm my suspicions. If you look at the percent American MD and DO slots filled and add them up, that number is slightly higher than last year compared to the previous year. Then take a look at my prediction at the end of the blog; you will see the following statement: ” based on the secondary statistics, I see a similar to slightly increased match competitiveness for radiology.” Well, it just about matches!
Some people say that a broken clock is always right twice a day. But, I like to think that I do know a little something based on my pseudoscience. Now that I have established some street cred, the big question is, how does the crystal ball line up for next year? Well, my tarot cards project some changes over the next several years. And what will they be? So let me give you some of the reasons for my final opinion on next year’s match and then I will conclude after I sum it all up!
It Will Take A Few More Years For The Pandemic Effects To Settle Into The Medical Students Consciousness
News from the current radiology market tends to settle down into the medical school statistics several years after the fact. Why? Because medical students that have already decided to go for a particular subspecialty don’t like to change specialties right before the match. Therefore, whatever slight trends have occurred the year before, will tend to increase over the coming years. These trends include desirable radiology features like relatively more minor patient contact than other subspecialties (a positive in a pandemic) and a more remarkable ability to work from home than other medical specialties. Based on this theory, I expect more medical students to continue the upward trend of competitiveness for a radiology residency. We are in a positive feedback loop!
Zoom- The Crystal Ball Says The Trend Continues Allowing More Students Than Ever To Interview
We are in a period where the initial zoom interview is replacing the standard live interview. It’s just that much easier and cheaper to screen candidates. That fact also makes it much easier for candidates to take interviews that they may not have previously encountered before. It’s no big sweat to interview from your screen. But, it’s a major ordeal to travel two thousand miles by plane and car to arrive at your destination. So, we will continue to see a higher percentage of candidates interview at more institutions.
More Emphasis On Lifestyle/Flexibility
One of my colleagues recently polled graduating radiologists from want-ads. More than ever before, more new radiologists want the ability to do more work from home. Many new radiologists expect that they will not have to come into work to cover injections, perform procedures, or collect histories from patients. It has become a turn-off for some new radiologists to do anything at the hospital. I expect a similar trend to ensue over the next several years. And, radiology is one of those few specialties that can accommodate these sorts of candidates.
Artificial Intelligence Is Not The Sea-Changer It Was Expected To Be
It’s been 5-10 years since the artificial intelligence revolution had begun in earnest. And, what are the sharp changes that we have seen in the practice of radiology yet? Not as many as the pundits initially projected! Sure, we have some great triage tools, mammo CAD, lung nodule CAD, and improvements in software for reading CTs, PETs, and MRI. But has it changed the day-to-day work that much yet? Not at all. As usual, the folks in Silicon valley overmarketed their technologies to increase sales. But, it doesn’t necessarily amount to definite real-world changes in the practice of radiology. The replacement of radiologists is a far-off prophecy. It will remain that way for some time. And, medical students are beginning to understand the same!
So, What Does My Crystal Ball Say For The Next Year?
Well, if you can’t figure it out, re-read the previous four paragraphs! I am relatively bullish on the competitiveness of radiology in the NRMP match. My crystal ball sees continued increases in the quality and number of applications over the coming several years. What can stop this bullish trend? Lots of things! But, if I were an applicant now, I would have many more reasons to apply to radiology than several years before.
But remember this. Usually, periods that the match is more competitive are less valuable for the same applicants when they get out in the job market. The competitiveness and radiology market are highly cyclical. So, you may find yourself in a downdraft once you graduate or not! Regardless, as always, it is more important to apply to a subspecialty that you like. And even though I think radiology is the bomb, make sure that when you send your applications out, it is the specialty that you want!