medpod

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hi all, I am a new member and future radiologist (I hope). I was wondering if anyone here is concerned about the future of radiology outsourcing. sorry if this has already been discussed, but I am starting to worry about it as I finish up my 3rd yr and decide what field to go into. I am big into quality of life and that's why I like rads. Also, I don't think I have a natural bent toward radiology and image interpretation...it took me a while to understand all the freaking subtleties in contrast and shadows in CXRs...is there still hope for me as a radiologist or should I bag it!! Help!
 

ears

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Outsourcing is a complicated issue. It's not an immediate threat, but there's definitely a big push for payors to hold down imaging cost. It's entirely possible that radiology is in for a transition like pathology recently (10-15 years ago?) went through, such that an average radiolgists salary is much lower than it is today.

What about the lifestyle attracts you? Are you sure radiology has it? Radiologist salaries have held pretty steady over the last ten or so years, but only because most radiologists are working much harder than they used to.

Still interested in radiology?

(PS: I think it's an awesome field. But I suspect that those who go into it because it seems like a good way to make a lot of money without working too hard will be pretty disappointed.)
 

hans19

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Radiology is no longer a lifestyle field. Granted we don't round on patients, so theres less clinical BS and paperwork to deal with. Sure we work 7 or 8 AM to 5 PM and call might not be as frequent as some of the clinicians. But when we are working you are reading non-stop from 8-5 with a short break for lunch. There is Virtually no down time, its balls to the wall all day, day in and day out. You just have to draw a line and stop reading somewhere at 5PM. There are often times plenty of studies to be read by the on-call rads that are left over from the work day. On call we read non-stop, no down time till 8 am, then we stay after to 'read out' with the attendings. Even the neurosurg residents have time to get a short nap in when they are on call.
When you go home at 5pm you still have to read a good amount. Radiology encompasses an unbelievable volume of information that must be learned during the 4 years of radiology that you can't possibly learn by simply paying attention on-the-job.

Let me put this in perspective... I know of a program in which 5 of the 6 graduating seniors got/were getting divorced by the end of the residency. This is something you might expect from a general surgery residency.

As far as earnings, they are at a peak and can only go down as the federal govt will slash reimbursement for x-ray studies in an attempt to curb rising health care costs. Part of the problem is clinicians ordering too many not-useful tests, or blatantly self referring exams to their own imaging equipment help their income -- but that is an entirely different issue for a different thread. What the government decides to pay thru medicare sets the tone for what insurance companies are willing to reimburse.

Outsourcing is the least of our worries at the moment. If you really like radiology, then do it. Just realize radiology is no longer the cush job that it used to be. You will work your ass off and earn every penny you make, and there are turf issues now more than ever.

If you are any good, you will never go hungry and will still have a job that pays better than what 99% of the rest of the people in this country make and better than what 99.99% of the rest of the world makes. In 1996, the bottom dropped out of the radiology job market, and those that decided to stick to their guns and pursue a rads residency (they either really loved radiology, or had to settle for radiology) were suprised with a booming job market (probably the best ever) when they finished.

Thats my 2cents. Good luck.
 

Al Pacino

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I'm going through the radiology match right now. From talking to radiology residents and other applicants, radiology is an amazing field. On the interview trail, it was really, really hard to find a disgruntled radiology resident. Sure, people complained about the workload or the lack of didactics, but really no one complained about the specialty itself.

That being said, radiology is hard work. Residency is going to one where you have to shoulder a heavy load. However, once you finish, it's up to you how hard you have to work. You can go private practice, read film minute after minutes, and make lots of money. Or you can go academics and be an attending with residents that do most of your work. Of course, salary as an academician will be much lower although you won't have to do the grunt work of reading images and dictating them as you will have residents and fellows doing them.
 

Whisker Barrel Cortex

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I wouldn't consider outsourcing a significant threat. I think turf wars with other MDs will be a factor, but I'm not sure how much of one. I agree that pay will likely go down a little from the astronomical salaries now being reported, but will still be relatively high.

I definitely think a real interest in radiology is essential. It can be hard to judge as a medical students. It IS rare to find a disgruntled rads resident because the department is generally friendly and hours are definitely better than other specialties (even including reading). However, I know of a couple rads residents who are somewhat dissillusioned with rads and really miss being more involved in patient care. So try to make sure this won't be a factor for you.