February 24, 2017

A forum for radiologists to talk about employment.

I spend a decent amount of time online in various medical forums, radiological and otherwise. You’d think, being in a medical specialty that requires sitting in front of computer monitors for the vast majority of our working hours, the last thing we’d want to do in our spare time is sit in front of monitors some more…but many of us are evidently gluttons for punishment.

Unsurprisingly, when doctors who don’t work in the same place get together (even virtually, online), they tend to compare and contrast their working environments. This includes places of former employment. Sharing war stories can be for sheer entertainment or for a therapeutic airing of grievances.

It can also have the pragmatic value of spreading the word about individuals and practices which have behaved less than wonderfully: Broken promises of partnership, ever-increasing demands with stagnant or diminishing compensation, trolls alongside whom you’d never want to work, etc.

Thus, every now and then, a radiologist (especially one early in his career, or new to an area) will put out the question: What does everyone think of [insert radiology group or hospital name here]? Or, more generally, what opinions are held about groups in the area?

Such open inquiries have the advantage of canvassing a broad swath of the relatively small radiological community. One’s query has a good chance of being seen by peers with valuable intel, firsthand or otherwise.

Whether or not those peers actually respond is another matter. Website promises of anonymity and privacy to the contrary, negative comments may come back to haunt the commenter, or the website itself, in our litigious society. Even if everything said is 100% factual and claims of libel ultimately fail, most (including the websites’ hosts) are less than eager to even tempt the accusation and ensuing lawyerly hassles.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"56989","attributes":{"alt":"Radiology forum","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_2215092265332","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"7190","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: 200px; width: 200px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©LINE ICONS/","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Indeed, sites have not uncommonly censored discussion “threads” which spoke negatively of a particular practice, after said practice learned of the thread and rattled their legal sabers. Often, the best an inquirer can hope is that somebody will kindly invite him to “PM” (private message) for a more confidential dishing of dirt.

This is all very hit-or-miss, and so the point has occasionally been raised: Isn’t there a more efficient way this information can be exchanged? Or must all radiological job seekers metaphorically stumble around in the dark and hope they don’t step in anything unpleasant?

I’ve tried to imagine legally-unrisky ways of approaching this. One notion I had was a website called something like, a forum wherein any rad could indicate where he’d lived/worked, coupled with his recommendations regarding the local players. Saying good things, at least, would be safe from “cease and desist” orders, and a site featuring positive chatter about our field would be a refreshing thing to encounter.

The fact remains, however, that most folks making these inquiries are looking for the negatives; which practices to avoid. How might the docs on effectively warn their colleagues? I think one useful approach might be “damning with faint praise.”

For instance, I might indicate that I have worked in Anytown, USA, and that to my knowledge the local radiological employers are Hospital A, Group B, and Imaging center C. I might go on to say I have worked in A, have personally heard from rads in B…and would therefore recommend C to any job-seekers intending on living in the area.

One could get more specific than that, and hint at why a prospective employer is to be avoided like the plague. “There are several reasons I might want to work with a given radiology group,” an entry might read, “such as competitive compensation, flexible scheduling, a realistic partnership track, and a collegial atmosphere. When I worked at XYZ MRI, however, they demonstrated commitment to other priorities, such as their landscaping.”

Humor and online snarkiness aside, there are serious matters that would have to be addressed to make such a website functional. The first would be ensuring that only genuine radiologists were participating, albeit under the anonymity of screen names. To sign up, a site member would need to provide proof of medical licensure (details kept in confidence by the site). This would also prevent a rad creating, say, 10 different screen-names for himself, lest anyone seek to unilaterally spread a false narrative with the appearance of other concurring docs.