Efforts and Appetites

September 18, 2015
Eric Postal, MD
Eric Postal, MD

In radiology, let your effort match your appetite.

Folks who know me, even for a little while, notice one or two things about me sooner than later: I like my food, and I’m more than a little serious about my exercise regimen.

It seems to come to them as an afterthought, if a thought at all, that these phenomena might have something to do with one another. Which strikes me as peculiar, amusing, and a little unfortunate; if the connection between caloric intake and expenditure were on more people’s radar, we might not have quite such an obesity issue in our society.

Of course, my approach isn’t the only way to go. I’ve seen plenty of healthy individuals who don’t go crazy with the exercise (or do it at all)-they just don’t chow down as heartily. One might consider them low-effort, low-appetite people, whereas I’d be in a high-effort, big-appetite crowd.

There are also plenty of low-effort, high-appetite types out there (harking back to the obesity issue mentioned above), and a few high-effort, low-appetiters (anorexics, some models, and intermittently Hollywood types transforming themselves for upcoming roles).

Point being: People have a tendency towards an internal set-point, a thermostat if you will, regarding their appetites and efforts, with variable inclination/ability to adjust these attributes if there is sufficient motivation (say, an upcoming beachy vacation). Outsiders attempting to impose their views (“You should get more exercise!”) at the very least should expect imperfect compliance, and perhaps a harsher reaction.

It strikes me as peculiar, less amusing, and a little unfortunate when someone who knows better than to offer such unsolicited advice…completely fails to understand that there is also an individualized balance between efforts and appetites of other varieties.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"41091","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_492718886417","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4288","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 150px; width: 200px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

I, for instance, find myself also to be a high-effort, big-appetite sort when it comes to work. This is probably why I gravitated to telerad, where there is always more work to be had (requiring effort to complete), in exchange for which one gets a heftier paycheck (the appetite part of the equation, lest it need saying).

Someone else might find my arrangement to be utter hell; a low-effort, low-appetite rad might be far happier in an employed position which gives a salary well below average but contains relatively few cases, a very leisurely pace, and lax hours.

It would be nice if we all could find jobs that let us live at the fulcrum of our effort/appetite balance, but we dwell in an imperfect world, and often make the best of limited options…for instance, a high-effort, big-appetite guy who might have found himself working in the low-key (and low pay!) job mentioned above.

Much frustration and workplace strife often results…which is, again, peculiar and unfortunate (but never amusing to those involved), because a recognition of individual differences in effort and appetite could so easily defuse these potential standoffs, and indeed capitalize on them.

For instance, consider the low-key job above, now occupied by a ready-and-raring-to-go rad who wants to rack up RVUs, prove his worth, and on payday have something extra to show for it. If the rad recognizes the disparity between his effort/appetite ratio and his current work environment, he might seek ways to fix it: Approaching higher-ups with offers to put in extra hours, for instance, or tracking his productivity to show them that he’s outperforming everyone else, and suggesting that maybe there should be some incentive for this. An even more on-the-ball employer might recognize this proactively, before the workhorse brings it up, and propose a plan to him.

Alternatively, some elder-statesmen types might have come to a point where they’d like to scale back their hours, and/or crack the whip less on themselves to read fewer cases than they used to. An adaptive workplace could recognize that a work-slowdown is going to happen one way or another, and if hard feelings and an unpleasant parting of ways is not to ensue, might allow for altered terms of engagement such as part-time hours.

At least as important would be to recognize and deal with the presence of high-appetite, low-effort folks in the mix, such as senior partners who have come to feel it is their birthright to collect profits without putting in more work (leaving less financial slack to allow for rewarding productivity elsewhere). Or newbies who have soaring self-esteem and grand notions of their own value, but haven’t hit their professional stride sufficiently to live up to their own hype…yet.