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What do you love about Radiology?

esposo

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    I know a lot of radiologists. And sure, they joke with me about how they can make a ton of money while sitting on the beach with their laptop computer. Or they constantly quote the ROAD to happiness. :)

    But seriously, I know you guys love radiology for more than the monetary rewards and lifestyle. What is it about rads that you like? I'm still an MS1 so I don't have any experience with rads. And I'm sure I will learn more about it when I rotate but what is cool about rads? I'm considering it as a possible career choice because I love technology and computers. I think the idea of imaging, MRI's etc seem interesting. At the same time, I think I could be a little naive about the profession because of this. I also like patient contact but I can see it being an overrated experience especially with patients who can be irritating.

    So aside from ROAD and $$$$, what is it that you lke about being a radiologist?
     

    Whisker Barrel Cortex

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      There are many things I like about radiology:

      1. The Science of Medicine: I love the study of the anatomy and the pathology of the human body. In radiology, we get to study and utilize the science of medicine, utilizing all of the factors we have: The imaging, the clinical history that is provided, sometimes the labs, to make the best possible diagnosis. We see the imaging on all of the most interesting diagnoses. I have seen cases of the vast majority of pathologic conditions you learn about in med schol. I like knowing the imaging findings and clinical implications in patients from birth to old age and in every organ system. No other specialty allows this. You would be suprised how much of clinical medicine is social service and patient reassurance.

      2. Vital to patient care: Almost every adult who gets admitted to the hospital will get at least one imaging study. Our results will directly impact the care of the majority of these patients.

      3. Laid back atmosphere: Even on the hectic days, the radiology department is less formal and regimented than the wards or outpatient clinic. I call 95% of my attendings by their first name, as opposed to 5% in medicine.

      4. Coolest technology: We get the coolest toys and are on the cutting edge of medicine.

      5. Expert consultant: I like being the consultant for other doctors. Their patient has a problem, and they ask you to help them figure it out. The last time I was on call, I reviewed a MRI/MRA neck with a 65 y/o vascular surgery attending known as a malignant attending to surgery residents, and he listened to what I had to say and was very appreciative.

      6. Procedures: Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to do interventional to do procedures. General rads and body imaging trained rads do biopsies, can do radiofrequency ablations, thora and paracentesis, etc. Musculoskeletal radiology trained rads do arthrograms, joint injections, epidural injections, bone biopsies, etc. Neurorads do angios, flouro guided LPs, etc. Mammographers do stereotactic biopsies of breast lesions. These procedures provide a good mix to the daily work schedule.


      What I don't like about radiology:

      1. Rude clinicians who don't respect you and don't understand the limitations of imaging. Add to that those who insist on the wrong imaging study, even though you try to guide them to the correct exam. To those that are rude, I do not go out my way to be helpful. Those who I respect and who respect me will get the utmost care and attention.

      2. Lack of certainty in many cases: There are limitations to imaging and we are often the only ones that understand it. Some of this is inevitable, but I vow to try to limit hedging the best I can once on my own.

      3. Clinicians thinking they can do your job: Most clinicians have absolutely no idea what a radiologists job is like and will read your report and look at your study then say, "I can do that." Some are looking to imaging to boost their income (neurology, orthopods, cardiologists, etc). Thus, turf battles are raging.

      Those are my opinions. I love the practice of radiology when done right. I think that in the future, subspecialization will be the only alternative as imaging gets more compex and more and more subspecialist clinicians demand more expertise than a general radiologist can provide. Luckily, most fellowships are only 1 year.
       

      f_w

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        Amen! to this post.

        - You will see disease processes out of every other specialty of medicine. From psych to CT surgery, every field has patients that need imaging studies.

        - You sit in a dark room all day. Yes, this is an advantage. In most practice situations, you don't have to run from practice to hospital to OR... Except for the occasional procedure, you are typically in one place and work comes to you.

        - Wide range of practice models. There are indeed people sitting at their wide area PACS workstation at home (or in the Fidji Islands for that matter), only reading contract telerad studies, and still make a living wage. On the other end of the spectrum you will find IR catheter junkies working 12 hours a day and every other night. Most rads are somewhere in between, working a normal workday call nights on a regular basis (if your practice contracts with a telerad provider, you can even reduce that call load further).

        - You are the doctors doctor. The smarter half of physicians is aware of their limited abilities in the imaging field. They will consult you for imaging strategies and to make sense of the results they received.

        - If you want patient contact, you can go into fields like mammography or IR. They offer plenty of patient contact if you so desire.

        - Interaction with other humans. The model of the hermit like grouch sitting in a dark basement corner of the hospital slinging barium and turning mylar into typed reports is a thing of the past. At least in private practice, communication skills are paramount.

        - every couple of years, a newer shinier toy creating better quality images in less time.

        - if you feel like it, you can knock yourself out doing research.


        Do some research project in your schools rads department, early on. Quite often your will have an opportunity to do so during 2nd year. Not so much to suck up to your local university rads and position yourself for interview season, but rather to get an early insight into the workings of a radiology department and to get to know different views in the radiology community. (As a side effect, you WILL get good letters and if you are lucky a publication or two with your name on it.)
         
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