Radiology's Three Little Pigs

June 21, 2013
Eric Postal, MD
Eric Postal, MD

This is the tale of three young radiologists, Drs. Straw, Sticks, and Bricks, all nearing the end of their partnership tracks.

The partners of Big Bad Radiology, PC, sat around their conference room table. Three young radiologists, Drs. Straw, Sticks, and Bricks were nearing the ends of their partnership tracks, and it was now time to decide what to do with them.

"Dr. Straw," said one of the partners, "hasn't been a great member of the team."

Others agreed. "He underproduces," one said.

"He makes a lot of mistakes," said another.

And on it went: "He's inflexible." "He doesn't have any unique skills." "He's not very pleasant."

And, after all, the job market was poor, and they could easily get a dozen applicants to replace Dr. Straw, any one of whom would probably do a better job. So they huffed, and they puffed, and they voted Dr. Straw down. He would be allowed to keep his position as a non-partner employee, if he was willing to take a major pay cut.

"Dr. Sticks," a partner said, taking up the next file, "has worked out decently."

Others agreed. "She reads as many cases as any of us." "I don't hear about too many errors from her." "She does mammo." "She pitches in extra, when asked."

But, after all, the job market was poor, and they could still probably get a quick replacement for her if she left. So they huffed, and they puffed, and they voted Dr. Sticks down. Someone diplomatic would explain to her how the practice wasn't in a financial position to take on new partners, or something equally vague, and she'd be offered a token annual productivity bonus (which would amount to zero, if her stats to date were any indication) if she stuck around.

Now came the biggie: Dr. Bricks. Everybody sat up a little straighter in their seats.

"He's a workhorse," began one partner. "Reads through cases like nobody's business."

"Quantity and quality," agreed another. "He never seems to miss, and referrers can't say enough good things about him."

The accolades piled up: "He reads studies nobody else can - coronary angio, brain perfusions, colonography…" "Goes the extra mile; has initiative." "Nicest guy you could ever want to meet." "We can't afford to lose him."

And yet, everyone at the table was thinking of dividing their control over the practice (and its revenue) by another share. Yes, Dr. Bricks had more than earned his slice of the pie… but they didn't really have to hand it over, did they? After all, the job market was poor, and even if Dr. Bricks was willing to move somewhere else he would have a tough time finding a better gig. Nice, team-player that he was, he would probably settle for whatever he was offered.

So they huffed, and they puffed … and they couldn't quite vote Dr. Bricks down. Instead, they gave him a token title of "partner" in one of the practice's minor, non-revenue-generating corporate entities. With non-voting shares that could be rescinded at any time.

So you see, there were indeed some little pigs in this tale. They just weren't Drs. Straw, Sticks, or Bricks.