The European Trainee Forum (ETF) Subcommittee of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) has published a report on the status of vascular and interventional radiology training in Europe.
Interviews based on a specially designed questionnaire created to assess the various aspects of interventional radiology (IR) training were conducted with the subcommittee members of the ETF, where recipients gave answers regarding their country of residence. The report includes responses from representatives of 24 European countries.
Contextualising the report, editor-in-chief Gregory Makris (London, UK) writes in the executive summary: “IR is transforming medicine through minimally invasive image-guided procedures. Despite the explosive growth of the specialty and the huge demand for more interventional radiologists, the training pathways across Europe have not all evolved in parallel with the clinical and academic needs of the discipline. Our objective was to map the training pathways across Europe in order to identify potential issues and identify ways for further improvement and development.”
The report reveals that IR has gained subspecialty status in nine of the 24 included countries, though adds that a structured IR training programme is available in 15 (62.5%). Makris and co-authors also note that there is “significant heterogeneity in terms of duration of IR training, with nine countries offering up to one year, 10 countries offering up to two years, and only five offering more than two years”.
An official IR certification examination is awarded following completion of the training programme in just under half of the 24 countries (11). Clinical training is included as part of the IR curriculum in seven countries, and ranges from two to six months of vascular surgery or intensive care.
In addition, the report finds that endovascular training opportunities “vary significantly” at an international level, “with inconsistent levels of exposure for the trainees”.
“Finally”, Makris et al write, “only three national IR societies have trainee subcommittees in their structure”.
There is slow progress in terms of obtaining subspecialty status for IR in European countries, while the duration, structure and certification of IR training remains heterogeneous. Consensus among the European IR leaders is needed in order to achieve a homogenous, well-structured, competitive and clinically orientated IR curriculum in Europe with clear guidelines regarding the required duration and structure of training to achieve competency, especially regarding peripheral arterial and aortic work. More active involvement of the trainees in national and international IR societies is also deemed essential for the future growth of the specialty.