How to tell if I should pursue radiology?

Discussion in 'Radiology' started by maybedeadcat, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. maybedeadcat

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    Hi! I'm a 3rd year trying to decide on a specialty. Up until recently, I never considered radiology, but I recently did a short rotation in it and really enjoyed it. My question- how can you tell, as a med student, if radiology is right for you?

    On my rotation, I really enjoyed the interactive lectures. It was challenging but engaging, which is something I haven't experienced on other rotations (usually I'm so bored in lectures!). I like that each case feels like a puzzle to solve. I love the fast pace, the collaboration among colleagues, and the generally positive attitude of residents and attendings. And I absolutely love how radiologists recognize a decent lifestyle as an important aspect of a medical career, and not as something to be ashamed of wanting.

    Is this enough to know that radiology is right for me? I still don't really know what it's like to be a radiologist, and I'm not sure how I could find out. Shadowing hasn't helped. In fact, just watching people read imaging is pretty boring. How can I tell if I would enjoy the career before pursuing it?

    Thank you!
     
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  2. patel1283

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    Current R1 here. Unfortunately, for most medical students the quality of 3rd year education has been diminished and it is harder than ever to decide what specialty to choose. On top of that, radiology is so hard to understand from a medical student perspective. Just remember that there's probably multiple specialties that you can do and end up happy. Don't fall in the trap that one specific specialty was designed for you. I can see myself doing five specialties.

    As far as how I came to choose radiology, (1) family member is a radiologist (2) I did not like internal medicine at all (3) I liked surgery ALOT but didn't want the lifestyle and other bs that came with it (i.e., clinic three days/week) (4) prioritized quality of life (5) I can do IR if I don't like DR

    As you can see, I didn't comment on how cerebral radiology is and loving sitting in a dark room, etc. I did multiple rotations and fell asleep during them routinely. Questioned whether I would like it. Now, I am glad I chose it. I actually enjoy what I do and contribute to patient care in a meaningful way. There are tons of radiology subspecialties to choose from and likely one you'll end up liking. Basically, if you like learning medicine without seeing patients, writing notes, rounding, etc., that's radiology. There's pros and cons to every field and honestly you're taking a leap of faith when you choose a specialty.

    When people ask me what specialty to choose, I always say EM. Enjoyed the rotation during my internship surprisingly. A lot of practices adopting 9 hour shifts. Residency is very short. Scribes write your notes. Seems like a good gig but I am only able to say that after rotating as a resident in the ED and having full responsibility of my patients.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  3. maybedeadcat

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    Thanks, this is a great response! It's comforting to hear that you felt similarly to me before residency.
    This part especially resonated with me, haha. I feel a little bad about it, because 1-on-1 patient care is a big reason why I pursued medicine in the first place, but 3rd year has shown me it's not all it's not all it's cracked up to be. I especially hate rounding.

    The one thing really holding me back at this point is I have a relative in radiology who has advised me not to go into the field because it's "so much worse than it used to be." It's hard to tell from a med student perspective what he means by this, because every radiologist I have come across has been very happy. Do you have any input on this?
     
  4. Cognovi

    Cognovi Knowledge worker
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    Radiology became more efficient, which has resulted in reading higher study volumes, and digital, which has resulted in less in-person interaction with clinical colleagues because they no longer need to come to the reading room just to look at the images.
     
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  5. patel1283

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    Just something I noticed in medicine in general. There are a lot of complainers. Complainers at my medical school, complainers in my intern year, and complainers at my program. Remember, the rads who've worked in the early 2000s raked it in without the excess reading volumes. Now they're making less, working more, and being forced to learn new modalities/tech. I am not saying your relative falls under this category but something to keep in mind. I have met really happy rads for the most part and the rads that aren't happy usually have underlying personal problems (financial issues, divorces, etc.).

    Just remember radiology is a 24/7/365 field and expect to work your fair share of nights/weekends. Most groups have dedicated night people and are large enough to spread the call around. Pick a group that fits your needs and you'll most likely be happy.
     
  6. bananasewq

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    There are many who say radiologists in the early 2000s made more than they are now...from all the salary numbers I see, it has increased since the 2000s. Is there any data showing that these radiologists made more than the ~500k median currently according to MGMA?

    Thanks! Great advice and insight :)
     
  7. Cyal

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    Adjusted for inflation, increased cost of tuition and the volume of studies being read, radiologists today are probably working harder than they used to for less cash per unit of work.
     
  8. maybedeadcat

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    This is so true! People do love to complain, especially in the medical field. And I definitely think my relative falls under that category, haha. Do you still feel like it's "worth it"?
     
  9. patel1283

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    I never really understood why people say just pick what you like the most at the end of the day until recently. Regardless of what happens to market conditions, salary, vacation, etc.; you just want to choose a career you'll enjoy when the worst happens (i.e., work hours increased and/or pay is reduced). That really ruled out a lot of medicine and surgical specialties for me.

    To answer your question, I can't tell you if it was worth it until I am mid career. My family member is a radiologist and it seems worth it, but everyone's journey is different.
     
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