Whilst it is important for radiologists to promote the specialty to undergraduates, it is also meaningful for students to see their peers engaged in learning more about the specialty. Undergraduate radiology societies comprise a committee of interested and motivated undergraduate students to promote Radiology to their peers. There has been an expansion of undergraduate radiology societies in the United Kingdom in the last five years, with support also provided by the Royal of College of Radiologists. The undergraduate radiology societies organise and host events, liaising with the local Radiology department to do so. A stepwise framework of how to start a society with suggestions for types of events to organise are given in this section.
Founding an undergraduate radiology society: the process
Medical schools differ in their stipulations and paperwork. Founders should be familiar with local procedures and deadlines for submitting relevant paperwork. The following comprise generalised considerations founders should consider:
Society ratification—which student bodies to ratify under, necessary paperwork, duration of the ratification procedure, appeals process to an unfavourable outcome
Finances—sources of income to fund events. Examples of funding streams include membership joining fees or sponsorship from external organisations.
Different medical schools will have different requirements on the minimum number of students required to form an undergraduate radiology society and the types of roles expected. Core positions typically include:
President—to oversee the running of the society
Treasurer—to manage the society’s finances, obtain funding, complete any relevant documentation for reimbursement and raise capital
Secretary—to appropriately schedule and book rooms for meetings and events; write meeting minutes.
The committee may be expanded depending on interest and need. Several examples are as follows:
Vice President—to deputise the President
Education Leads—to identify learning objectives and relevant undergraduate curricula, organise timelines, tutors and a programme
Phase Leads—to represent the interests of the relevant student cohort
Event Coordinator—to plan and organise events
Social Media Lead—to advertise on and manage the society’s social media accounts
Conference Lead—to assemble and lead a taskforce; organise the conference programme
Honorary President—to advise the committee and provide expertise; this is usually a Radiology registrar or consultant.
The committee should have input from all year groups to optimise student engagement and address unmet needs. It would be desirable if committee members represented all year groups, but some undergraduate radiology societies may choose to allow external advisory roles or run student surveys to match events to demand.
Types of events to organise
It is desirable for the undergraduate radiology societies to meet before the start of the academic year to plan events for the year and mark out holidays and examination periods. This is particularly pertinent for conferences and ‘series’ events consisting of multiple events under a particular theme. In the case of the latter, advanced planning ensures a logical sequence of events. Spreading out events through the year is advised to account for unexpected changes or the addition of events on an ad hoc basis. A database of contacts should also be assembled at the earliest instance as finding available speakers for events may be challenging on occasion. Contact details may be available on local hospital or university websites.
Revision tutorials are popular but should not be a replacement for formal teaching. Ideally, the undergraduate radiology societies should work with the local radiology departments and medical schools to arrange revision sessions and tutors. The content for an effective tutorial should be tailored to the appropriate level and account for all stages of training, both at the pre-clinical and clinical levels. Students at the pre-clinical level may benefit more from applied radiological anatomy. Students at the clinical level may benefit more from the following:
Approaches to interpreting images
How diagnostic and therapeutic radiology fits into common or acute treatment algorithms
Appropriateness and considerations when requesting scans.
Like formal teaching organised by the medical school, revision sessions should also encompass a broad range of specialties and imaging modalities and be adapted to any demand for specific sessions.
Visibility to radiology is generally poor with many undergraduates who are unaware of the patient/diagnostic imaging workflow and procedures performed by radiologists. Events showcasing the different subspecialty roles (e.g. “A Week in the Life of…”) may help students make more informed decisions regarding their careers. It is certain that junior doctors will encounter patients during their general medical or surgical training, who have received imaging or had IR procedures performed therefore knowledge of the indication for these is beneficial. Events elucidating the training pathway, application process and interviews are also of equal value, particularly students who want to build their curriculum vitae early given that radiology is becoming increasingly competitive.
Symposia and conferences
Undergraduate radiology societies may also choose to organise an undergraduate symposium or conference, typically at the national level. Although running student conferences can be labour-intensive and expensive, they may improve the society’s visibility, provide good networking opportunities, and improve recruitment of motivated candidates into the specialty. These events usually require forward planning so early assembly of a task force is crucial. Considerations include:
Logistics—location, duration, date and time
Programme—talks, workshops, speakers
Finances—sponsorships, reimbursement for travel, ticket prices.
Some undergraduate radiology societies may choose to encourage abstract submissions for posters and presentations, which if advertised early enough, may encourage the output of more Radiology-related projects. Equally, essay competitions where prizes may be awarded may increase student engagement and encourage students to be more aware of current issues facing the specialty.
Finances and accounts
Prior to the start of the academic year, the treasurer and president should be aware of where the undergraduate radiology society’s accounts are stored, who is involved in the process of accessing funds and how it is done. For established undergraduate radiology societies, the incumbent treasurer should also provide an adequate handover of this process and the amount of remaining funds in the account.
Streams of revenue and sponsorships
The undergraduate radiology societies must be familiar with the potential sources of funding and is highly dependent on the individual medical school. This may include bodies to directly sponsor individual events, or a lump sum may be given to the undergraduate radiology societies by the medical school or equivalent governing body. In the case of the latter, the undergraduate radiology societies, typically newly founded undergraduate radiology societies, may be asked to provide evidence of interest to receive funding. Instrumenting society or event health metrics provides unequivocal evidence of engagement.
Undergraduate radiology societies, particularly newly founded and early-stage societies, may also wish to have a steady source of revenue. Examples include charging ticket fees for individual events or following membership models, whereby the undergraduate radiology society charges an upfront payment in exchange for discounted or free services for the year. Pricing, timing, and effect on student engagement should be accounted for. Trade-offs should be rationalised at the earliest instance and in the context of local, pre-existing financial structures to ensure the undergraduate radiology societies’ long-term sustainability.
The undergraduate radiology societies should also familiarise themselves with the process of reimbursement. It may be the case that a committee member pays “out of pocket” initially, so digital or physical copies of receipts should always be documented.
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