July 1, 2016

The radiologist’s fairy tale.

Hopefully, your current circumstances bear no resemblance to those of Cinderella (pre-royal ball, anyway).

You might, however, have had the misfortune of being a Cinderadiologist. Or at least known one or two.

In lieu of a wicked stepmother, a Cinderadiologist is troubled by an unpleasantly taskmaster-like employer or equivalent (managing partner, department chair, hospital admin, etc.). Maybe some equally nefarious stand-ins for wicked stepsisters (other senior partners, hospital admin staffers).

A Cinderadiologist does not, lest it need saying, have quite the same set of chores as did the original fairy tale character. Scrubbing the hearth and being an all-around house slave are (I hope) never in the mix. Still, the overall theme is there: Cinderadiologist gets a disproportionate volume of the work eschewed by the wicked folks mentioned above, and receives little reward or gratitude for the excessive burden. Nor autonomy or voice in the making of decisions pertaining to the practice/department.

Much like the wicked stepfamily, who would surely have argued that Cinderella’s chores earned her sustenance and a roof over her head, Cinderad’s overseers would say that there is a proper reward in play: The job, and compensation for same, that Cinderad agreed to, with opportunity to bargain for better terms (or work elsewhere).

To be fair to them, not every self-identified Cinderad is dealing with quite as much wickedness as he might believe (or lament to sympathetic ears). Think, for instance, of a not-Cinderella who bridles at being told to make her bed each morning, or cries foul at receiving the humble fare affordable to her house, rather than haute cuisine. A faux-Cinderad might have an inflated sense of self-worth, an unrealistic perception of the radiology world’s economics, or a cockeyed view of his group’s division of labor. 

That said, I’ve seen more genuine Cinderads out there than faux-Cinderads. They’re the ones who somehow wind up doing most of the fluoro cases, covering more than their equal share of nights and holidays, and getting mammo and X-rays dumped on them. Meanwhile, their antagonists cover little or no call, cherry-pick MRI (if they even read cases at all)…and I need not spell out what happens when it comes to figuring out who receives how much on payday.

Maybe the rad walked into this situation knowing full well what his daily grind was going to be, and either thought he could endure it or figured things would improve. More commonly, promises were made (or implied), and subsequently broken, if gradually. However he got into this mess, it’s what he does about it that might make him an honest-to-goodness Cinderad.

A true Cinderad does not take substantive steps towards improving his lot (seeking other work, striving to demonstrate strong value in his current position so he can renegotiate better terms). Cinderad also does not shrug and accept that, yes, it’s an unfortunate situation, but this job is the best option for him (he wants to live in a desirable location, and all radwork in the area is similarly crummy), so he focuses on learning to live with it.

No, a genuine Cinderad very much wishes he had it better. Wishes with fervor for things to change, for life to get better…maybe even is convinced that he is destined for greater things. But wishful thinking, rather than action or even the formation of a plan, is where it stops. Cinderad, in other words, is unlikely to see better days without fortuitous changes befalling him…perhaps an out-of-the-blue call from a Fairy Godrecruiter.