dEviantrAdiologist

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As a radiology resident, it's very difficult not to get excited when I talk with senior residents that are getting 300k+ starting offers for radiology positions. I still have a few years left in residency, and I was wondering just how long this job market will last.

Last year I spoke with a bigwig at AFIP and he stated that the jobmarket will continue to be excellent for at least 10 more years. This is because in order for more residency spots to be opened, legistlature must be passed (some programs have extra spots already, but just haven't needed to fill them at this point). This will take at least a couple of years to occur. Then there will be a 5 year delay in order for the new residents to hit the job market. This is pretty solid evidence for a lasting jobmarket.

Thoughts?
 

Bax

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Along these lines, wasnt the market not so hot back around the eary and mid 90s. I cant remember the reason why the job market tanked around then but was curious what the salaries were like around then.

Also, wasnt Rads a noncompetitive residency filled by IMGs and such...what the hell happened that bling bling went up so high the past few years that everyone wanted to go into Rads.
 

Jim Picotte

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This question would better be answered by a senior radiologist who has seen these thrends but here's what I understand:

Before 1997, the year they started to require a prelim year, there were about 1200 slots a year. In the early 90's with all the HMO news, the predicition was that you'd have to beg for a CT scan for a patient so they thought that the volume would go down, and radiologists wouldn't be needed as much. Also, in the early-mid 90's they didn't fill all those 1200 slots.

Obviously this didn't happen and the number of studies have gone up substantially along with all the new technologies coming up. In 1998 there were about 800 slots filled, last year around 900 and we're in need of more radiologists as the only way we're not in a critical shortage is that a lot of people came out of retirement to help out.

This won't last forever and I expect the fantastic job market to come back to reality some day here though but I also expect that there will be a physician shortage in just about all specialties expecially in 10-15 years. No matter what you go into, you'll be safe don't worry.
 

bat21

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When I applied for Radiology in 1987, the field was very competitive. Thirty of us from a class of 200 applied and only 15 made it. All but two were AOA. I had plenty of offers upon completion. A few years later, I took time off to attend law school. It was surprising how the market dried up when I looked for radiology jobs. I couldn't believe there were residency programs that went unfilled. And the greediness of older practicing radiologists were disheartening. They were screwing the young guys by not offering them partnership after three years, or offering night coverage positions only while they were all living in luxury. I don't think the shortage would last very long. There are always other specialties trying to cut in on the action. Cardiologists and OBGyns do their own echos. I even have surgeons trying to read their own mammograms! A switch in reimbursements or a Democratic take over would change things in a hurry. So just do what you would enjoy doing, even if the salary benefits are not there. It was not until the eighties that radiology became popular. Before that, there were no Ultrasound, CT and MRI to bring in the big bucks.
 

Celiac Plexus

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Interesting thread....

I ask you to consider the reimbursement structure as it exists today... To a degree, radiologist salaries are affected by supply and demand. Rads have done a nice job of controlling supply vs. demand in the last few years (unintentionally or not), and therefore the driving force today behind the high salaries is partly a supply/demand effect. Hospitals need radiologists and will pay whatever it takes to make sure they get them.

Radiologists are also benefiting from a surge in the number of CTs, and MRIs that are being ordered. 5 years ago, it was a bigger deal to order a CT. Today, a CT is ordered much more frequently. Recently I read a paper about how CTs are useful for diagnosing appendicitis for crying out loud. So, radiologists get paid well for reading all of these millions of CTs that get ordered.

The future? Well, rads can always control supply of radiologists. I think that that is their best instrument to maintain high salaries. Eventually though, the government is going to realize how much all of these millions of CTs are costing to read. It's reaction? Either cut down on the number of CTs being ordered (probably an impossible feat), OR simply cut the reimbursement for reading CTs/MRIs etc... I think it is a real possibility that the govt. WILL cut reimbursement for reading CT/MRI and that will probably be the biggest blow to rads salaries. Pathology used to be a pretty compettive field because, like rads, it offerred a pleasant lifestyle and very high income. Then the govt. slashed reimbursement rates for their services... pay went down and voila... look how many unfilled spots there were last year.

Rads is a cool field... You will always be able to make a reasonable living. I wouldn't count on the field being like it is right now forever though. The reassuring news though is that rads is a tech driven field and there is no shortage of new technology in this great country of ours. Soon enough, someone will come up with the SuperPETMRICT scan that will drive the whole money machine again....
 

NERad

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All good points. I think radiologists have several weapons to battle government infringement on salaries. 1) lobbying against new rads residency spots 2) aggressively fighting turf wars (this means organizing and even unionizing at major hospitals) and 3) most of all actively campaigning for a Republican congress. Those who follow will know that it is mostly Democrats like Tom Harkin and Hillary Clinton that would like to increase training spots and reduce Medicare reimbursement to docs.
 

bat21

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An example of how bad it can get is Canada. When I was looking for fellowship, I applied to the University of Toronto because many papers in MRI were written by the faculty there. I talked to the program director and found out there was only one unit shared by eight hospitals. Even worse cases are England and France where medicine is socialized.