Evolving AI Technology is Keeping Med Students from Pursuing Radiology

While most of the world agrees that breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (also known as simply ‘AI’) have made life considerably easier, there are a few drawbacks for certain individuals. One set of individuals who feel at a slight disadvantage are med students.

Reduction in Radiology Demand?

A great number of medical students are under the impression that new breakthroughs in AI have reduced the demand for radiologists. If ongoing trends are to be believed, these students say that demand will continue to drop, thus making radiology a very cut-throat field.

A recent study published in Academic Radiology says that the fear of an AI takeover (so to speak) has gone so far as to discourage some current students from even considering radiology as a possible concentration.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted among the students of seventeen different Canadian schools in March of 2018. Three hundred responses were recorded among the potential student pool, and two incredible statistics stood out.

First, 67% of all respondents stated that evolving AI would generally reduce the demand for radiologists. That’s more than half of people surveyed, which says quite a bit about what the next generation of medical professionals feel.

But that wasn’t even the craziest response. An incredible 29% of all respondents stated that they believed AI would replace the need for radiologists entirely. In other words, AI would replace radiology completely with no more need for an actual person anymore.

Some people were still considering radiology as a possible (or definite) concentration. Among only those who are still considering this career path, almost half of them said that evolving AI has made them feel anxious about their future.

Among those who no longer consider radiology a choice, 14% stated that it would be their top field choice were it not for ever-advancing AI in that particular field.

What the Survey’s Authors Had to Say

Bo Gong, the leading author of the survey, had this to say about the survey’s results: “Our study revealed considerable anxiety among medical students’ interest in radiology, caused by their perception of the impact of artificial intelligence… Such anxiety discouraged a significant number of medical students from considering a radiology specialty.”

The authors stated there are steps the current radiology community could take to help med students understand the true impact artificial intelligence may have on their chosen specialty. In fact, they went as far as to create a list of possible ways current radiologists could help students to understand more on this topic.

Yet despite anxiety regarding their future careers, most responding students did support the idea of collaboration with the IT industry to support the role of AI in radiology and in improving patient care across all medical sectors.

As for whether or not AI will replace radiology all together, most practitioners are doubtful. This isn’t to say it couldn’t happen far into the future, but for now AI is complementary to radiologists and do not displace the need for human care.

 

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