Having developed something of an online presence as a teleradiologist, I occasionally get messages asking for advice on the subject: Why did I go this route? How did/do I like it? Do I think it’s a good choice for someone in situation X?
Maybe wishing I’d had someone to advise me when I was taking the telerad plunge, or maybe just because I love feeling like I have wisdom to impart, I never waste the opportunity to reply. Indeed, I have difficulty keeping it brief.
Today, for instance, I got an inquiry from someone a year out of fellowship who was considering moving to telerad from private practice. His message clocks in at about 60 words, and my answer is a little over 600. Ending with a “feel free to ask me more” invitation because I had tried to rein myself in.
Regular readers of this column might be surprised that I advised against a typical rad in his position going into teleradiology. Since others in his boat, or even still in residency/fellowship might be considering the move also, I thought it might be worth sharing my views here.
(It has occurred to me that such early-in-career rads might not be long enough in the tooth to appreciate the “young grasshopper” reference in the title for this week’s column. Fortunately, with youth often comes greater Internet-expertise, and I, thus, have full faith in their ability to root out the source, perhaps, thence, to enjoy it.)
If you are a radiological newb, corporate telerad (a la vRad, RadPartners, etc.) is probably not yet for you. Their models are very much “eat what you kill,” meaning that you get paid purely based on how much you read. Even if you found a place that claimed not to work this way, I guarantee that you’d be hearing about your productivity if you didn’t hit sufficient numbers…and rads usually need a few years in the “real world” after training before they will hit their stride in this regard.
Might you be an exception? Sure. Maybe your training had you working like a beast, and you can already churn out RVUs with the best of them. Maybe you did a bunch of moonlighting and are effectively a few years more experienced than your residency-mates. Or, maybe your situation is such that you don’t really need/want top-dollar for your time, and you’re willing to earn less in a telerad gig than you would have in an onsite job.
Have you really thought about the hours you’d be working in the telerad world? Most of it is nights, holidays, and weekends. It’s far from impossible to live that way—plenty of folks enjoy having every other week off and are able to adjust their biological clocks to function during the daytime when they are not working. But, is that something you want for the long haul?
Quick thought-experiment: Imagine, for years to come, every time friends or family invite you to join them for something, you have a 50-percent chance that it’ll be during one of your work-weeks. Yes, you can rearrange your schedule for the longer-term stuff—a wedding next year, no problem. But, some pals just mentioned that they’re heading out for drinks this Saturday? Flip a coin: Heads, you can attend; tails, you’re working that day.