Farewell, Radiology

May 8, 2015

Leaving the radiology trenches.

After over 30 years in the radiology trenches, I have raised the white flag and left the field of battle. Surprisingly, I have not missed it. More precisely, I haven’t missed the stress and pressure, the nights and weekends, or the sick-to-the-stomach feeling when I realized I missed something. The only thing I do miss is the people and, to them, I am and will always be grateful.

It is often said that you should be nice to the people you meet as you climb up the ladder of success because you may need them on your way down. Like the golden rule, I have always tried to treat others the way I wanted to be treated but, regrettably, I know that I haven’t always been successful and, for that, I sincerely apologize.

I want to thank my teachers, professors, fellow residents, partners, and all who have shared their knowledge and experience with me. I want to thank all the radiologic technologists who pointed out obvious misses as kindly as possible. I want to thank all the transcriptionists who caught my mistakes and put up with my absurdly long dictations until I matured in the profession and figured out what was important to say. I want to thank the ER docs who picked up the phone and gave me additional information or notified me of an error or omission in my reports in a timely and constructive way. I want to thank all the referring physicians who treated me like a valued colleague, consulted with me on their patients, and allowed me to feel that I was helping them care for their patients. I want to thank all the patients who have patiently endured my efforts to develop and improve my technical skills.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"34993","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_7430722541087","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3726","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":"float: right; height: 195px; width: 160px;","title":"Douglas G. Burnette","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

I am especially grateful to my radiology partners who allowed me to transition gradually from my first career to my second by allowing me to work part time. As I have said before, retirement isn’t for sissies and requires careful planning. In the financial planning circles it is frequently said that people spend more time planning a single vacation than they do planning for their entire retirement. We advise our clients to “practice” retirement both in a budgetary sense and lifestyle sense before they actually retire so they can minimize some of the rude surprises that await.

Retirement is not the never-ending weekend of relaxation and fun that many imagine. Everyone should plan for their retirement and develop a purpose and structure for this final phase of their lives. For many physicians, their identity is closely tied to the profession of medicine and the loss of their work identity is extremely difficult. In my case, I rarely used my title of doctor outside the hospital or felt my identity was closely related to my profession. I found it quite humorous that at my retirement party many of our neighbors and acquaintances were surprised to find out that I was a radiologist.

Radiology has been a great profession. It has provided well for me and my family. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to help my fellow man. I believe I did more good than harm. Radiology has undergone tremendous change during my career and I will be a very interested observer in how radiology and medicine continue to change in the coming years. Farewell and thank you, radiology. I wish you well.