Sunday, March 20, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Standard radiologist trophy wife
1) No more patients (or people) for you: The stereotype of the isolated radiologist sitting alone in a dark room without that much human interaction really isn’t that far from the truth. Aside from the occasional image-guided biopsy or fluoro study, most radiologists spend the day…alone in a dark room without that much human interaction. Sure, they’ll chat with a few fellow radiologists, relay any pressing results to ordering clinicians, and talk with a variety of techs and administrators, but that’s essentially it. That may be a plus to some, but for the majority of those entering medicine, at least some meaningful patient interaction was probably a big part of their interest in becoming a doctor. In Radiology, you get vitamin D deficiency instead.
2) Med-malnanigans: The realities of Radiology make it an easy target for malpractice suits of all flavors. Any X-Ray, CT, MRI, etc., is saved and available in all its glory to anyone with 20/20 hindsight and a bone to pick after a less than favorable outcome. Though mistakes are made in rads as in any other field, the opportunity for second-guessing is greater when essentially the entirety of the clinical presentation is forever available for review. The byproduct is both frustrating and inevitable; many radiology reports devolve into nothing more than a list of sweet CYA nothings such as “cannot exclude,” “could represent,” “may suggest,” and a laundry list of kitchen-sink differentials. I’m sure the radiologists hate dictating those as much as everyone else hates reading them, but it’s hard to expect anything different in this particular medico-legal climate.
3) They could taakk yeerrrrrr jerrbs: A relatively hot-button topic, at least among many radiologists I’ve talked to, is the concept of outsourcing certain diagnostic radiological services to cheaper domestic areas or even abroad. After all, the radiologist doesn’t really need to be right downstairs all the time, and probably costs more sitting there in the dark than an equally competent physician working remotely (and sitting in the dark). If the notion of who is acceptably “remote” includes foreign docs or others willing to work more cheaply, then the current set-up for radiologists would clearly erode. Somewhat relatedly, Interventional Radiology, which can currently be pursued via post-Rads fellowship – and which offers patient contact, cutting-edge procedural awesomeness, and compensation up the wazoo – is also expected to diverge into its own completely independent residency and field in the not-too-distant future. Separating IR from diagnostic rads would remove one pretty appealing career path for the field, and only contributes to the uncertainty facing the profession in the next few years. (That said, given the scarcity of training positions and subsequent competitiveness of IR, going into diagnostic rads with an IR-or-bust mentality is sort of like getting a job at McDonald’s on the off-chance they’ll let you be the next Grimace. It’s risky to dream that big…)
Diagnostic or Interventional?