Noninterpretive Skills for New Radiologists

November 29, 2016

How new radiologists can find the right practice, from RSNA 2016.

Navigating through the skills required to succeed as a new radiologist reaches far beyond the interpretation of images and begins even prior to landing that first job, Michael Veronesi, MD, PhD, said at RSNA 2016.

Currently in his second half of a neuroradiology fellowship, Veronesi ssaid that burnout is a real problem in medicine and over 50% of radiology trainees suffer from at least one symptom of burnout. The culture of expectation, emotional intelligence, and onboarding support that imaging practices offer new radiologists can make all the difference.

Asking the right types of questions during job interviews leads to higher job satisfaction downstream and offers ways to find the right fit while maintaining a level of personal control. Veronesi suggested asking the hiring team about the safety of the practice, work/life balance, practice stability, and individual contributions. These can offer insight into the dynamics of each potential position and decrease the risk of burnout.

Sharing an ACR Imaging 3.0 initiative that each radiologist has the ability to affect the culture and success of the group whether he or she holds a leadership position or not, Veronesi said ideal prospective employers offer leadership development, understand physician wellness, and cultivate emotional intelligence.

“Each time a new radiologist joins a practice, it is an opportunity to reexamine the work environment and how everyone is treating each other,” He said. Burn out can be salvaged through good emotional support and a team that brings out the best in each other.

Brent Wagner, MD, West Reading, PA, agreed that matching the appropriate radiologist to the right circumstance is imperative for success. Having been a leader in private practice for over 15 years, Wagner said: “I wish I had more people to advise me along the way. I still consider myself a developing leader. I make mistakes. I’m imperfect and evolving.”

Onboarding takes time and patience and there should be communication upfront between practices and their new radiologists regarding cultural expectations as well as inclusion and transparency regarding financial reports and decision making.

To create a successful onboarding process for new radiologists, Wagner stated practices should have these key attributes:

Fairness: The practice should have a history of fair treatment. Providing the same formal contracts and bylaws for each employee, fairness should be the goal culturally in the group.

Patience: Both new hires and seasoned members of the team need to be patient with one another. New hires need to know that their ideas are important but there is a balance between innovation and disruption. Employers also must empathize and realize that both teaching and learning are hard.

Formal mentorship: There should be group governance in place from chairman to president and beyond that form a democracy and recognize each individual role along with the unique qualities they bring to the group.

Informal mentorship: Offering new radiologists a well-selected contemporary who is approachable and relatable to discuss common struggles openly and honestly.

Once hired, practices need to understand there are currently four active generations in the work force with very different generational values, from the older traditionalists and baby boomers to the younger gen X and millennials is essential to sustaining career success,” according to Anastasia Hryhorczuk, MD, pediatric radiologist, Tufts Medical Center.

“Leaders may expect younger radiologists to have similar work styles,” she said, acknowledging that older generations are known to be more loyal “company men” or “workhorse” types and less focused on lifestyle balance. This can end up being reflected in department hours, promotion hierarchy, and call distribution.

Despite generational differences, Hryhorczuk said new radiologists can improve their work environment by clarifying expectations with their employers from the beginning, such as call, daily hours, and work/life balance.  Considering other generations’ perspectives and learning from them is key. “Play to your strengths both clinically and professionally,” she suggested, and look for areas of openness to implement gradual change or gain efficiencies.

“It’s not a 4-week rotation,” said Hryhorczuk, whose motto during residency was to just keep swimming. “Sometimes the pool gets a little small, sometimes you are a fish out of water, but eventually you can turn your job into a home where everyone can be happy.”