McMaster University

McMaster University


Radiology offers an excellent overview of most areas of medicine, including medical and surgical subspecialties, as well as basic medical sciences, such as anatomy and pathology. An elective can assist in consolidating knowledge you have gained along the way in your medical training and enhance basic skills in imaging interpretation. This can be useful both for those interested in this specialty, as well as many other specialties. Most electives designs are set up to exposure you to the many different areas of the specialty; however, if you have a particular interest or need, this can be discussed with your supervisor, in order to tailor the elective to your particular learning needs. For those considering radiology as a career, an elective in radiology is strongly advised, in order to obtain a clear perspective of what the specialty entails and to determine if it's right for you! It is advised that you seek a radiology elective in our departments as a more senior student, for instance second year or beyond, in order to gain the most from your elective experience.
For those considering Radiology as a career choice, an elective in this specialty is a must.

Why choose an elective in Hamilton?

Radiology electives are available at all four of our teaching hospital sites. You will find all sites have enthusiastic staff radiologists who you will have direct contact with, as well as the many residents in our program. Currently, it is possible to undertake an elective at 4 hospitals in Hamilton. In addition to general Radiology, each of these Radiology departments offers additional exposure to subspecialty interests.

  • Neurosurgery and Traumatology at the Hamilton General Hospital
  • Oncology at the Juravinski Hospital (formerly Henderson)
  • Chest, Renal & Hepatobiliary Medicine & the Study of Anatomy (CORA - Centre of Radiological Anatomy) at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
  • Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology at the McMaster University Medical Centre

Your first step in organizing a radiology elective at McMaster depends on where you are currently enrolled:

Outside elective medical students: Medical students not registered at McMaster must apply through the electives office. This includes students from other Ontario or Canadian medical schools. Students registered in US and International medical programs must also contact the electives office, as a first step

Electives office contact:

Please do not contact any of the radiologists before contacting the electives coordinator.

McMaster medical students: As students in the MD program at McMaster, you can contact the appropriate person listed below, depending on the site you are interested in arranging the elective at.


McMaster (MUMC):

Contact person:
Marilyn Scott
Administrative Assistant
Tel: 905.521.2100, Ext: 74490
Fax: 905.577.1443

Electives Coordinator: Dr. Yongdong Wang (

Juravinski Hospital (formerly Henderson):

Contact person:
Andja Macesic
Administrative Assistant
Tel: 905 527 4322, Ext. 42562
Fax: 905-575-2660

Electives Coordinator: Dr. Stefanie Lee (

The following is a template of the elective schedule used for students at JHCC. It can be adjusted to suit the interests and goals of the student by filling in the rotations with opportunities in breast imaging, interventional radiology, CT, MRI, radiography and ultrasound. There is protected time for working through teaching cases or attending additional multidisciplinary rounds in the cancer centre. Students doing a two-week elective are asked to give a 10-15 minute presentation on a topic of their choice on the last Friday of their rotation at noon rounds.

Elective Schedule:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8am-12pm 8-9am: Resident Rounds
DI Conf Room B1-130
Meet Dept. Admin for tour
8:15-9am: MSK Rounds
DI Conf Room B1-130
8-9am: Resident Rounds
Resource Room B1-106
7-8:30am: Hepatobiliary Rounds
DI Conf Room B1-130

8-9am: Film Friday Rounds
Or case review with residents

Meet with residents and create schedule. Meet elective supervisor Rotation 2 Rotation 3 Rotation 4 Rotation 5
12-1pm Breast Rad/Path Rounds
BAC Conf Room
Resident Rounds
Di Conf Room B1-130
Academic Half Day Resident Rounds
DI Conf Room B1-130

Interesting Case Rounds
DI Conf Room B1-130

1-4pm Rotation 1 Guided Self-Study Guided Self-Study Guided Self-Study


St. Joseph's Hospital:

Contact person:
Terri Millsip
Administrative Assistant
Tel: 905-522-1155, Ext:33308
Fax: 905-308-7207

Electives Coordinator: Dr. E. Stubbs (
Assistant Coordinator: Dr. O. Mironov (

It is the objective of this elective to provide a comprehensive and insightful experience of a busy teaching hospital radiology department.

Students will rotate through different subspecialist areas of the department and will be afforded the opportunity to observe procedures and examinations being performed.

Time will be spent with Residents/Supervising Staff Radiologist/Rounds and self-direction study including CORA (Centre for Radiology Anatomy) participation. Rotations can also be filled with sessions shadowing and learning from the technologists at the point of image acquistion (MRI, CT, Mammo, USS, Plain radiography).

The elective is designed to be equally as valuable for those hoping to enter a career in Diagnostic/Interventional Radiology as those pursuing other career paths both in the hospital practice or Family Medicine.

For more information, please refer to: Medical Student Electives Program


Hamilton General Hospital:

Contact person:
Lidia Menechella
Administrative Assistant
Tel: 905-527-4322, Ext:46911
Fax: 905-527-5761

Electives Coordinator: Dr. S. Kennedy (

At the Hamilton General Hospital, elective students will participate in the team of radiologists, technologists and nurses responsible for care in our busy trauma, neurosurgical, stroke and cardiac center. Students can rotate through different radiology subspecialties (Neuroradiology CT and MRI, MSK imaging, Body imaging, General Radiology, Interventional and Neuro Interventional Radiology, Cardiac Imaging). They will spend time with our learners (radiology residents and fellows) and staff. Elective students will participate in our many rounds, both multidisciplinary clinical and teaching hot seat rounds. Self-directed study is also encouraged, and resources for this can be provided. You will also have the opportunity to participate in resident half day and meet our residents.
Many of our staff radiologists have trained at McMaster University and can provide insight into our radiology residency program.
This elective is indented both for students wishing to start a career in Radiology and those wishing to learn more radiology to complement their clinical practice. All levels of learner are welcome. Please take to opportunity explore and see if McMaster Radiology would be a good fit for you!

For further information on elective rotations at Hamilton General Hospital, please refer to our Electives Guideline


    How do I get to the Diagnostic Imaging department at each site?

    • MUMC: Main floor (2nd floor), Yellow Section. At the front desk you can ask how to get to the back hallway where you'll find the administrative offices.
    • Juravinski (Henderson): From the main entrance,turn right and follow the signs to Diagnostic Imaging. Department is on the street level.
    • Hamilton General: From the main parking ramp, go down the hall past the lobby and cafe. Continue straight until you see a sign overhead for the Diagnostic Imaging/MRI department. Turn left where you see that sign. Continue down the hallway; the doors to the department are on the right. Note: It's not the "Medical Diagnostic Unit" but the Diagnostic Imaging department further down the hallway, after you turn left.
    • St. Joseph's: Find the atrium where Second Cup is located. Go down the large stairs in the centre of the atrium. The Diagnostic Imaging department is on your left.

    What electives should I take as a medical student?

    • There is no secret formula to getting into radiology, based solely on your selection of electives. Many of our residents have taken a variety of electives in different specialties including surgery, medicine, psychiatry etc. Others have taken a heavily radiology-weighted schedule. It's really up to you what you feel suits you best and feels most comfortable to you. Our program encourages a wide variety of electives and clinical experience, to help round out your education and assist in determining if radiology is right for you. Residents from our program have been matched to us with as little as one 2-week elective; others have had several radiology electives.

    Does it matter whether I take electives at an academic centre or in the community?

    • The setting in which you take your electives does not matter, as you will likely have a good experience in radiology in either setting. However, if you wish to enter the CaRMS match for radiology, it is important to have exposure to the teaching environment and what it is like to be a radiology resident. This information may also assist you in selecting and ranking programs. If you are seeking a reference from a radiologist, those in academic settings may be more familiar with other programs and teaching faculty across Canada.

    Should I do electives at places that I want to go? Do I have to do an elective at a place to get an interview?

    • There is no hard and fast rule for this; however, you should consider doing an elective at the centre or centres you are most interested in training at. Programs recognize that it is costly in terms of money and time to organize electives afar or in many programs. You need to prioritize and seek out the experiences that seem best for you. Many candidates still get an interview without doing an elective at a particular centre, based on the strength of their application. The only advantage of having done an elective at a site is familiarity - you will be familiar with them; they will be more familiar with you. An elective at our university is not a mandatory step required for interview selection.

    How much time should I spend at a particular hospital for an elective?

    • 2-3 weeks is generally an ideal amount of time to get a feel for a program, get to know the residents and staff, and sometimes get a letter of recommendation. 1 week is too short - you are just getting used to your surroundings by the end. With this approach, you can get two electives in a one-month elective block. This offers the chance of "checking out" 2 programs, rather than just one.

    What are good introductory texts for an elective student? (i.e. Radiology Made Ridiculously Simple, Felson's, etc)?

    • As a very superficial intro to radiology with some basic approaches, Radiology Made Ridiculously Simple is a good place to start.
    • Knowing your anatomy is half the battle in radiology, so reviewing your basic anatomy is well worth the effort before your electives, particularly as it pertains to chest radiographs, bones, basic body and neuroanatomy. Everyone will tell you different things, but anatomy atlases by Netter and Rohen and Yokochi are popular. Radiographic anatomy books may also help, such as Anatomy in Diagnostic Imaging by Fleckenstein.
    • Reading about common diseases seen on chest radiographs, how to describe common fractures, the CT appearance of some common diseases would also serve you well. More on that later ...
    • There are many other good introductory radiology text books - a classic one is by Lucy Squires. Ask your friends. You can also ask for any listed references that might be included in your elective student package. Some centres or radiologists are willing to lend you a book. Also check out the Health Sciences libraries. There are a ton of radiology books there too!

    What are good online resources?

    • For anatomy, Gray's Anatomy can be found online, completely free of charge at:
    • Our residency program subscribes to Stat Dx which is an excellent resource for residents to use during our daily work and on call. Entering simple search terms results in pages of information with the imaging features of various diseases, along with excellent representative images from multiple modalities. Additionally, lists of different diagnoses can be found for specific findings along with information on how to discriminate between each diagnosis. This also includes access to a radiographic anatomy atlas. This resource was created by Amirsys and is basically an online version of the entire Diagnostic Imaging series of popular texts. It is extremely costly, so wait until residency and hopefully the program you are in will subscribe to it too!
    • What are medical students expected to know?
      • Gross human anatomy and some basic histology are good to know for any graduating medical student, regardless of which sort of residency they are going into. The more gross anatomy you know, the easier it will be to learn radiology. There are no firm expectations, though as with most things, you reap what you sow!
      • Some topics that may be helpful to read are listed below. This is not an exhaustive list, nor is this a required reading list. These include basic topics that are valuable to know for any physician, as well as some more advanced items, for those of you who wish to read a little extra and get the most out of your electives. Again, all of this knowledge is by no means expected of medical students! Even PGY2 residents will not have covered some of these topics, until a few months into their training!
        • Chest radiographs: Basic appearance of collapse/atelectasis, pneumonia, lung cancer, pulmonary edema, lung nodules (solitary vs. multiple), trauma (pneumothorax, aortic transection/dissection etc), mediastinal masses, pleural effusion
        • Abdominal radiographs: Signs of perforation, small and large bowel obstruction, volvulus, signs of bowel ischemia/inflammation
        • Bone radiographs: An approach to fractures and how to describe them, common dislocation and fractures/eponyms, some basic arthropathies, for instance RA vs. OA
        • Head CT: Basic axial neuroanatomy, different types of bleeds - epidural/subdural/subarachnoid, stroke (ischemic and hemorrhagic), features suggestive of tumour or abscess
        • Abdominal CT: Gross anatomy including great vessels and normal location/appearance of solid organs. Some basics of CT appearance of renal tract obstruction/renal colic, trauma, AAA, common solid organ masses, appendicitis, diverticulitis, abscess, bowel obstruction/ischemia
        • MRI: The difference between T1 weighted and T2 weighted imaging and what each is more suited to demonstrate
        • US: How to determine cystic versus solid lesions or masses, some normal anatomical appearances of abdominal and pelvic structures
    • For cases:
    • For various teaching topics, you can check out the following sites, though going to a proper textbook is recommended above these resources:

    Do I need to do research? How important is it? What type of research (radiology-specific or other)?

    • The short answer is that no, you don't need to do research, but it helps/doesn't hurt. It demonstrates that you're capable of doing research and getting involved with medicine outside the realm of your own formal education. If your research is in the field of radiology, it demonstrates further interest when applying to radiology programs.
    • It is not a prerequisite to have research experience to be ranked highly by a program; however, in some programs it is viewed as a favourable asset, which may be used to discriminate between two otherwise equally strong candidates.
    • Being involved in research is good and if you can get a publication or scientific meeting presentation out of it, it can add some positive weight to your CV
    • But remember this - being a strong, capable medical student is #1! If you do lots of research, but don't do well on your clerkship rotations and medical school performance standards, it will not work in your favour. Being the best medical student you can be is the most important thing you can do to situate yourself as a strong, competitive CaRMS candidate.

    If I am interested, how can I get involved in research?

    • Ask some of the radiologists in the department where you are doing your elective or clinical clerkship rotations, if they or any other radiologists have a project suitable for medical student involvement. Case reports and teaching files are also good, easy things to start with.
    • If you commit to something, make sure you follow through, in order to demonstrate interest and reliability.
    • Ask some of the residents you know. They may be working on something and could use your assistance for a part of their project. They may also point you in the direction of a radiologist who may have suitable projects.

    What specific qualities are required for someone in the field of Radiology? Are there things I should learn about this while on elective?

    • The ability to detect visual abnormalities in 2D and translate, think about and process this information in 3D, as it pertains to the relevant anatomical structures and physiological processes is a key skill.
    • Good problem solving and decision-making skills. Radiologists have to make tough calls every day that can have a large impact on patient outcomes. Radiologists need to be able to put together what exactly is happening to each patient using the clues they glean from imaging. They often also need to make interpretations with limited available clinical information, making decisions about what to tell the referring physicians about findings, possible diagnoses and any subsequent tests or procedures that may be helpful to further manage the patient's problem.
    • An ability to multitask - radiologist are often juggling many tasks at one time, and often there are frequent interruptions. You need to be able to handle this challenge in order to function in the work environment of a busy radiology department.
    • A good work ethic and strong aptitude for academics. Radiology is an extremely large (and rapidly growing!) field - there is a lot to learn! You need to have a thirst and desire to "keep up" in order to excel in this field.
    • Good communication skills and the ability to work with others. Radiologists don't just communicate through text reports. Often other consultants come to see us to discuss cases individually, or we have to relay critical results over the phone, where communication of exactly what we have gleaned from the images is key. Also, in radiology there is a lot of colleague-colleague interaction and you need to work together to get through the workflow in the department and manage your radiology group as a whole.
    • Collaboration! A smooth working relationship with technologists, nurses and managers is also very important.
    • Procedural skills. Most radiologists do some percutaneous work with needle biopsies. If they are trained in interventional radiology, they perform more involved procedures, such as those involving intra-arterial catheters or other devices. Having the basic ability to do a procedure in the correct order with sterile technique is important, though most medical students will have acquired a basic foundation for doing procedures by the time of graduation.

    How competitive is it to get into the field?

    • Radiology is one of the more competitive specialties to get into. While medical schools expand positions, the number of specialty positions has not increased proportionately. The trend continues that this is a pretty competitive field to get into. Its continued popularity is fuelled by continual advances in technology, along with its ongoing reputation as a fulfilling medical career.

    Specifically, what do you look for to be considered a potential resident within the program?

    • Demonstrated interest in radiology and knowledge of what both the residency and a career in radiology entails
    • Demonstrated good work ethic
    • Ability to get along with and work with others - we are looking for team players!
    • Strong academic performance and track record of success
    • Well-rounded individuals

    What can a potential candidate do to be considered a stronger CaRMS candidate?

    • #1 - Work hard at being the best medical student you can be - this is your most important task! The skills acquired during the process of becoming a strong medical student and clinical clerk often translate into the candidate who becomes an outstanding resident - programs are looking for this type of student.
    • Learn as much as you can about the specialty, so that you are fully aware of the specialty, its challenges and its suitability for you.
    • If you can, get to know the radiology residents. They will serve as a resource for you!
    • Take interest and learn some radiology independently. It is noticed when an elective student seems to have good background knowledge of radiology and is actively reading or looking up cases in the evening. The residents and radiologists notice this. Radiology is a tough, challenging residency - if you show interest and aptitude for reading and learning early on, you will be demonstrating one of the key skills that will later be important for residency. Don't forget to learn your anatomy too!
    • If the opportunity arises, get involved - make up a teaching file, case report or a full research project in radiology. You can also offer to put together some resources or material for future elective or medical students. Be creative - you will also learn during the process!
    • Most importantly, work hard, be nice, arrive on time and be eager to learn!
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