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Choosing between rads and path

Discussion in 'Radiology' started by Rudy, Jun 6, 2002.

  1. Rudy

    Rudy Member 10+ Year Member

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    Jun 4, 2002
    I have had a difficult time deciding whether to go into radiology or pathology because of the many parallels that exist between these two fields. I know that this topic has been touched on indirectly in previous threads, but I'd like to hear some of your thoughts on how rads and path compare in terms of nature of work, salary, lifestyle, future demand, etc.
     
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  3. hosskp1

    hosskp1 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

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    Jan 30, 2002
    go for radiology and if you do not get it after 5 tries , then consider path.
     
  4. bigfrank

    bigfrank SDN Donor 7+ Year Member

    2,070
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    Feb 20, 2002
    E-USA
    Hi, here are my thoughts:

    Money = Rads

    Lifestyle = Path

    Nature of work = looking at pictures vs. specimens (your preference)

    Future demand = Rads, as more and more HMOs/other providers are encouraging less invasive methods of work-up.

    Both specialties enable one to be a doctor-to-a-doctor and afford a very comfortable lifestyle with great pay (although the pay in Rads is obviously 'greater').
     
  5. Firebird

    Firebird 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    1,190
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    Mar 15, 2001
    One other thing to take into account--very minor--is that the path residency will be easier on you than the radiology one.
     
  6. univlad

    univlad Member 10+ Year Member

    212
    17
    Jul 14, 2002
    I too am trying to decide between Radiology and Pathology...anyone else have anything to add about what the differences are between the two specialties? Do radiologists really work more than Pathologists? Do radiologist really make much more than Pathologists?

    Would anyone currently in Path or Rads care to share why they picked one versus the other? What are the differences in the day to day operations?


    Thanks for your help!
     
  7. LoneSEAL

    LoneSEAL Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    Dec 24, 2000
    path=make your slides and look under microscope, can be tedious
    rads=techs get pictures for you + make big money
    conclusion=me, i would pick rads
     
  8. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer 10+ Year Member

    893
    1
    Mar 23, 2001
    Indiana
    I hope you are planning on doing rotations in both to help you decide.

    The day to day job of the pathologist does not just involve looking at slides. Unless you work for one of the pathology "mills" that sit you at a desk and bring you slide tray after tray. The normal private practice job will spend part of the day with slides, part of the day "grossing" in the complicated specimens (or not depending on if they have a very good Pathology Assistant), attending meetings, handling clinical path duties (blood bank, chemistry, etc..), plenty of paperwork, performing FNAs (fine needle aspirations), performing bone marrow biopsies (in some places), performing autopsies and talking with a ton of physicians. I am sure I left out some things. Right now i spend about 3-4 hours a day looking at slides. And, there are subspecialties of path who barely ever look at slides.

    As for pay Rads is hot right now, but who knows when it is time for you to find a job. The job market for path seems to be pretty good right now judging from the graduates my program has had lately. I do not know the pay scale for rads, but for general path you can expect starting near $180K with partnership in 3 years then easily >$200+++(depending on the practice). Certain fields of path, such as cytopath and derm path will make much more.

    As for someones assertion that looking at slides can be tedious, sure sometimes it can. If so I take a break, listen to some tunes, take a short walk and come back to it. I imagine that looking at xrays can get pretty tedious as well. And, I don't make my own slides histotechs do that. I do gross in the complicated cases, if that is what LoneSeal was talking about.

    The future for path is also very bright. The push toward less invasive proceedures have made cytology a booming business. As the baby boomers get older, surgeries will continue to increase, therefore path will get more and more specimens.

    When comparing rads and path I would say both have similar lifestyles. Generally dayshift jobs with easy call. This is not true if you are talking about interventional radiology. In residency I take call from home about 6 weeks a year. Last year I ended up having to come into the hospital about 3 times while on call. Otherwise I just answered questions from home. I also had to work about 6 Saturdays over the last year.

    Getting the residency of your choice is much much easier in path than rads. But, path is getting a little tougher. Applications from US grads are up. Some programs are competitive. And, with the change in path residency to 4 years instead of 5, I imagine a few more people will give path a look.

    Hope this helps some. If you have any other questions fill free to email me or ask on the board. Hopefully we will have a pathology forum soon. Hint Hint Kimberly Cox.;)
     
  9. Jim Picotte

    Jim Picotte Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    You certainly should do a rotation in both to decide and talk to more than one pathologist/radiologist. One of the recent rads journal had an article on the shortage of radiologists and it said that 127 of 128 academic radiology programs were actively seeking radiologists with an average of around 5 spots per program. There are a lot of jobs in rads right now and it looks like there will be for some time. Now that the salaries are so high and because of the shortage, radiologists are working a lot more hours than they once did (a lot more call, many more hours) I would give the edge to pathology for lifestyle currently and the edge to radiology for money in the current environment, but if you really don't like to get up and go to work in the morning, will the money or short work week really fulfill you?
     
  10. univlad

    univlad Member 10+ Year Member

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    Jul 14, 2002
    Great Pumpkin:
    How many job offers are people getting in your residency?
     
  11. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer 10+ Year Member

    893
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    Mar 23, 2001
    Indiana
    It is hard to give you a good number this year. Because all the 5th years went to fellowships. We had two cyto path fellows, one is taking a year off to have a baby, the other was offered a job over a year ago that was too good to pass up so he never even looked. :) Next year should be alot more interesting.

    The year prior to that one 5th year went to a Derm Path fellowship and now he is likely making more money than he knows what to do with. The other went to a cyto fellowship. The other became staff here then left due to family emergency.

    Over the past few years I have been told no one has really had a problem finding a job.
     
  12. I'm sure he'll find something to do with the money. :)
     
  13. Airborne

    Airborne Senior Member 7+ Year Member

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    Jun 15, 2002
    East Coast
    Great Pumpkin:

    I've thought of Path as a specialty, but have been worried about obtaining a job post-residency... Can you provide some insight into this?

    As a MSIII in an MD/PhD program, I think I'll always want to be involved in some sort of research, but pragmatically, have always thought that in the research oriented side, the field is saturated with academics - Is this a wild assumption?

    You mention that cytology is a bureoning field (which I'd highly agree with!) - this does entail a fellowship, and do many (? most) residents continue with a fellowship to obtain a descent job?

    Thanks in advance,

    Airborne
     
  14. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer 10+ Year Member

    893
    1
    Mar 23, 2001
    Indiana
    From Above:


    I've thought of Path as a specialty, but have been worried about obtaining a job post-residency... Can you provide some insight into this?

    ***All I can say is everyone that has been in my program for the last few years has not had any problems finding jobs. Everyone says the path job market is fine and getting better. How many unemployed doctors of any kind do you know? I don't know of any unemployed pathologists, neither did my program chairman (i asked him). I know it is hard not to worry about such things, but you should just do what you like and things will work out.


    As a MSIII in an MD/PhD program, I think I'll always want to be involved in some sort of research, but pragmatically, have always thought that in the research oriented side, the field is saturated with academics - Is this a wild assumption?

    ***There is a mix of folks some like research some don't. I personally don't and plan on doing private practice. Most of the people interested in research stay in academics, but there are just as many people if not more that wouldn't care to stay in academics.


    You mention that cytology is a bureoning field (which I'd highly agree with!) - this does entail a fellowship, and do many (? most) residents continue with a fellowship to obtain a descent job?

    ***Cytology is a one year fellowship. But, you don't have to do a fellowship just to do cyto, you learn cyto in residency especially if you go to a program that really stresses it (like mine). But, having the board cert. would be nice if that is what you like. I would say about half the people do fellowships, some because they just love one specific area and some because they want to be more competitive in the job market and some because they want to put off taking the boards for one more year :). You do not have to do a fellowship to find a good job right now, but I do not know how that will change with path being only 4 years.

    For everyone that is wondering about the job market try searching the forums, this discussion has come up alot.

    Cya
     
  15. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer 10+ Year Member

    893
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    Mar 23, 2001
    Indiana
    Also, I just went on the College of American Path website and looked at the avail. jobs and it shows some great positions. There are 84 listed right now nationwide. Also, since most places never post jobs (most jobs are word of mouth only) I would expect this is not even 1/4 of the actual market. Unfortunately the position listings are members only. But, I downloaded a html file of the jobs so if you really want to see them email me and I will send it to you. Remember I work so will prob be tomorrow night before I can get back to you. Also, if I get a hundred messages might be a while too :).

    [email protected]

    cya
     
  16. X Ray Vision

    X Ray Vision Junior Member

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    Jul 27, 2002
    Kew Gardens
    Another issue is the kind of workplace. Path might be more likely to be doing more supervising of minions than rads.
     

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