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For radiology trainees eager to serve those less fortunate, home is what they need

Radiology residents are no slackers when it comes to “giving back.” However, many seem to believe that they must travel abroad to find medically underserved populations in need of serious medical care.

That perception is at odds with reality: More than 3,500 communities here in the U.S. would benefit greatly from volunteer physician services.

The reminder comes from members of the editorial advisory board for interns of RadioGraphicprimary education journal published by the Radiological Society of North America.

“There are many great local programs that not only give the trainee valuable experience, but, more importantly, create lasting, life-changing impact for the community,” said John Karp, MBChB, radiology resident at Penn Medicine, in an interview with RSNA news.

Karp was lead author of an article on this topic RadioGraphic published in December. RSNA reinforces the material in a news item posted on April 18.

The item also quotes co-author Charlotte Chung, MD, PhD, a neurointerventional radiology fellow at NYU Langone Health.

“When you do something locally, you can use the resources and expertise available to you within your institution, such as your fellow residents, supervisors and technicians,” Chung explains.

Chung speaks from direct experience, having worked at an established nonprofit clinic in Atlanta during his training at Emory Healthcare. The clinic served a large refugee population, and the radiology residency program worked closely with the clinic’s leadership and staff.

“I recommend building relationships with physicians at the nonprofit clinics because patients typically don’t show up without knowing what imaging tests they need or whether imaging is even needed,” says Chung. “There are a lot of logistics involved, especially when patients require follow-up for imaging findings. By developing these partnerships, you can provide imaging services over a long period of time.”

In the journal article, Karp and co-authors list mobile mammography screening operations, remote or in-person mentoring opportunities, and existing or starting outreach projects as other local volunteer options.

The authors write:

Whether interns start a project at their institution or work with a pre-established organization, they will gain invaluable experiences that can make a long-lasting impact on their local communities.

“As radiologists, we are fortunate that we are not only clinicians, but also diagnosticians and interventionalists,” Karp adds. RSNA news. “We have a multitude of skills that we can bring to a community and give back.”

Read the magazine article here and the RSNA news item here.