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How To Run A Guild (And, Maybe, A Radiology Group)


The difference between one group and the next may lie deep in the details.

I’ve made reference in this column, once or thrice, to a cellphone-game upon which I (enjoyably) waste some of my time each day. It’s not really necessary for me to specify which game, and besides, the game’s developers haven’t exactly reached out to procure my advertising-services.

There are more than a few games like it out there. One facet is that, in addition to competing against a gazillion other players for rank and bragging-rights, a player can team up with others for mutual benefit. A number of these games call such teams “guilds.”

I’ve been playing this one long enough that I was around when guilds were first introduced to it. Rather than stumble around blindly and find someone else’s to join, I decided to start my own. This wasn’t a shrug-of-the-shoulders kind of decision; to start your own guild, you had to spend a substantial amount of the in-game currency you’d earned through your competitive efforts. Sort of like plunking down the coin it might take to start your own radiology group, or buy one from someone else.

There was also another factor: Starting my own guild meant that I was going to have more to do than just playing the game. I’d need to recruit other players to join my group, and manage them once they did. Again, not unlike running a team of rads, if all you really enjoy doing is reading studies (or doing interventional procedures), you should think twice (at least!) about whether administrative responsibilities are something you want to pursue.

Still, there are more than a few of us, in rads as well as gaming, who prefer those extra burdens if it means we will be calling the shots rather than living by someone else’s decisions. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to view them as interesting challenges rather than burdens at all.
The question, at least in the game-guild situation, is: How do you attract and retain worthwhile members of your team? Unlike a radiology group, you’re not exactly handing out salaries, benefits, and partnership-roles.

Or is that such a difference? Let’s be a little flexible with our definitions and say that, by and large, the radiology job-market is something of a “free” one. With free-market dynamics of supply and demand, it’s not unreasonable to expect that at any given time, the job-prospects for a radiologist aren’t vastly different from one another.

Sure, the comp might be a bit better here or a bit worse there, but expectations of a rad (hours worked, RVU quotas, etc.) will similarly vary. If we were to imagine an overall job-quality score, taking all aspects of a gig into account, hunting for the “best” rad job would probably only get the seeker a few percentile-points higher than if he’d taken the first decent/obtainable opportunity he found.

It’s not unreasonable, then, to say that the logistical details of joining one rad-group versus another might largely cancel one another out, like dividing both sides of an equation by a common denominator. In which case, competing rad-groups, like guilds, might better be compared in terms of how they actually function-something a prospective new member might not really be able to know until he’s joined up. Although hearing testimonials (positive and negative) from current or former members of the group might provide some useful intel.

I’m happy to say that my gaming-guild has generally prospered, keeping its ranks full or nearly so throughout its lifespan. We compete pretty effectively against other guilds, and perform near the cutting edge in most aspects of the game. People like the guild, and we have little to no turnover. When we do have a vacancy, it fills pretty quickly. It seems fair to say we’re doing something right-and that there should be some measure of translation from that venue into others, like running a radiology group.
How have we done it? Tune in next column.

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