While CT, MRI and X-rays provide more of a workout for one’s radiological skills, more occasional spurts of DEXA scans and Doppler ultrasounds can provide comfortable diversions on worklists.
It was late in my radiology residency, or maybe just afterward. I was speaking with a friend in the training year just after mine. He referred to someone he knew from further back, perhaps med school. It was a friendly relationship that was strong enough that, even if they went years without interaction, things didn’t feel weird if they ran into each other or phoned out of the blue.
I didn’t immediately take it as a signal that he intended to cease communication, but it served that purpose sooner or later. At the very least, it had the effect of a pre-assurance that I had done nothing wrong, and we were parting on good terms.
It made sense. Stop going to the same workplace as someone else, move hundreds if not thousands of miles away, and you wind up with much less in common. You each have a whole new social circle. There is precious little time to keep in touch with older pals whose lives no longer intersect with your own.
The more cycles of education/training and relocation you go through — in a doc’s case, high school, college, med school, residency/fellowship — the more you live through the pattern and see it as normal. Indeed, you probably experience a few examples in which one party or the other tries to unilaterally cling to old times, and that makes things awkward.
Twenty years later, we haven’t run into each other, or reached out via any medium to communicate. However, I think of his comment every now and then, especially when I rekindle relationships with other old radiological “friends” in my worklists.
This most commonly happens when I change jobs. Long-term readers may recall that I like reading a wide variety of imaging. It keeps my skills sharp, boosts my marketability, and just plain mixes things up to avoid monotony. However, not all working situations accommodate that. Moving from one gig to the next, I sometimes have the pleasure of being reacquainted with cases I haven’t seen in a while.
During the past couple of months, for instance, I have happily reunited with DEXA scans. The last time I routinely read them was almost 20 years ago when I was still commuting to an imaging center. Subsequent teleradiology jobs didn’t get such studies from their clients so denso mostly vanished from my world until now.
It’s not the most intellectually engaging thing of course. My brain gets more of a workout from CT or MR, probably even a simple chest X-ray. I also suspect densos aren’t the best moneymaking use of my time, although I might be pleasantly surprised if I looked up their work unit value.
Still, just like old friends, my enjoyment of them isn’t based on such utilitarian things. They are familiar, like a comfy old armchair in which I have spent many happy hours. Reading them puts me on a well-trodden mental path, invoking pleasant memories from times I have done similar work in the past.
Arterial Doppler is another old friend who’s reentered my life with the new job. In that imaging center of yore, I somehow became the #1 ultrasound guy. Their techs could have done better transducer work, so a chunk of my efforts went toward making do with mediocrity, but it was still my bailiwick. I got satisfaction from that, even some pride.
My first telerad job continued to provide me with Dopplers, but subsequent gigs shunted those studies to others. Every now and then, especially when worklists were looking a little anemic, I offered to take them on as a boost to my workload (and perhaps a relief to others who were shouldering it), but I would rarely see more than a handful per year.
Despite my erstwhile residency mate’s comment, getting back together with old friends isn’t quite seamless. Nobody is forgetting that there has been a significant interval since last contact, and there’s some “catching up” to be done. That can be work, if you’re not particularly interested in playing a round of This Is Your Life, but it can also be fun if you are in the right frame of mind.
I find old friends on my worklist to be the same way. Skills do get rusty, and some relearning can be necessary to get back into one’s old groove. For me, that is always much faster and easier than it was to gain those skills in the first place. As a result, it is a morale booster, a reminder of what I have accomplished in the past and how what might once have been difficult is now taken in stride.