Radiologists in Real Life: A HOPE Seminar Encourages High School Students to Consider Careers in Radiology

Posted on November 2023

The need for medical imaging in the U.S. continues to increase, as the population ages and incidence of chronic diseases continue to rise. In fact, the U.S. imaging market has an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2% between 2022 and 2030. But will there be enough radiologists and radiologic technologists to meet the demand?

Staffing shortages are a serious issue in radiology – in fact, that very problem is currently a finalist in the Biggest Threat to Radiology category of the 2023 Minnies. Here at UW-Madison, faculty in the Department of Radiology have identified workforce recruitment and retention as the most pressing need.

To address that concern and build the next generation of radiology practitioners, Department members participated in a Health Occupations and Professions Exploration (HOPE) seminar on October 14. The HOPE program aims to expose high school students from underrepresented backgrounds to careers in the health sciences through hands-on activities.

Greg Avey, MD led an interactive session to show high schoolers from underrepresented backgrounds what it’s like to be a radiologist. With assistance from resident Cullen Fleming, MD, Dr. Avey set up stations simulating radiological procedures and concepts to provide an active learning opportunity.

“We simulated being radiologists for a day, using an audience response system to review images, making findings and treating patients,” says Dr. Avey.

“I chose to participate because I think that it is vital that we are inclusive as a Radiology community,” says Dr. Avey. “That means that we need to engage as many high school and college students as possible to consider radiology as a career.”

Megan Vadnais, a radiologic tech lead in MRI, also participated in the event to highlight how technologists and sonographers play an integral role in the radiology profession alongside doctors and nurses.

“Enrichment efforts for young people – such as the HOPE program – helps influence our youth to join health professions where diversity is needed,” explains Nicole Boone, the department’s diversity, equity, and inclusivity coordinator. “Diversity in radiology is imperative, as a diverse workforce can bring unique perspectives and skillsets needed to produce equitable outcomes in patient health care.”

Our team members have found participation rewarding on many levels. “For me personally I have found great enjoyment and fulfilment being a mentor in the HOPE program,” says Tim Ziemlewicz, MD, a regular volunteer. “Mentees I have connected with through the program have made a great impact on our clinical and research programs. It is incredibly rewarding to see students in the program, who rarely have familial or other network connections to the healthcare system, flourish when given the opportunity to engage with healthcare teams.”

The department proudly supports the HOPE program and appreciates our team members who have participated in HOPE activities. This includes Jessica Robbins, MD, Jade Anderson, MD, Giuseppe Toia, MD, Ryan Woods, MD, Anand Narayan, MD, PhD, Jason Stephenson, MD, Mark Kliewer, MD and Mai Elezaby, MD.

Additionally, Department Chair Thomas Grist, MD, Fred Lee, MD and the Radiology Finance Committee made the first commitment to financially support HOPE in 2014, before it was formally adopted as a UW Health program in 2016.