No Awards for "Participation" in Radiology

September 2, 2015

Doing a good job in radiology should be rewarding enough.

There’s been recent media attention on participation trophies and ribbons for children’s athletic activities. Various professional athletes have claimed these awards are overdone since the majority of these “pediatric players”, including their own children, have not won anything and, therefore, not earned them. The polar opposite position is played by executives of various trophy and award companies that are trying to improve their bottom lines by claiming this practice improves kids’ self-image since we are trying to cultivate well-adjusted teens and adults as they enter into various societal and workforce games played by all of us.

The parents of these participants are typically somewhere in the middle of this milieu as they try to weave their way through parental guidance of their children in hopes that their kids will grow up to be self-sufficient, well-adjusted, contributing adults in society, knowing full well that the vast majority will never play competitive sports.

This phenomenon got me to thinking. Although the majority of radiologists will never practice “competitively” (such as) writing papers, serving on boards or committees that decide important or specialty-influencing issues, or advising leaders that shape national policy, shouldn’t we all be recognized, just the same? Shouldn’t we all get participation awards? After all, we try hard, almost every day. We try to come to work on time, try to avoid long lunch breaks and be considerate of our colleagues.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"40996","attributes":{"alt":"trophy","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_6412421547164","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"4256","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: 160px; width: 160px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Dacian G/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

We participate in daily reading, committee meetings, and tumor boards. We participate in the call schedule, curb-side clinical consultants, and the occasional spontaneous media spot promoting our latest imaging modality, explaining how it will help us better serve our patients and our committees. We contribute our thoughts, opinions, and suggestions when asked, and occasionally even when we are not asked. We may even contribute our dollars to fundraisers and foundation activities.

Gee whiz, don’t we “deserve” some kind of participation award, trophy or ribbon for our efforts as radiology team participants? Tongue-in-cheek humor aside, I’d wager that many of us can recall (sadly) radiologists who do think we should be awarded simply for our participation in our day-to-day activities.

We should all realize that there are certain expectations and guidelines that should govern our participation in our daily radiology practices, regardless of what we do or where we are located. Common to all practices should be open communication between all associates, consideration of the others’ positions and situations, timely arrival and departure for work activities, avoidance of imposition on others, timely completion of our work duties, etc. This list could go on and on, but is self-evident to those with insight into how practices should work together for the greater good of all.

Our collective (and individual) mantra could be “It’s not about me.” For these kinds of activities, we should not expect participation awards. We should expect to put forth this kind of effort on a regular basis since this is what we originally signed on for.

We will receive metaphorical participation awards, trophies or ribbons when we do our work so well that our peers, referring physicians, administrators, and, particularly, our patients stand up and say “Well done”! These are the kinds of achievements that we should be striving for on a daily basis.