9 habits to become a more effective radiologist

Stephen R. Covey’s work “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” details the habits of successful individuals and how they can be applied to all professions.

A   recent article published in Current Problem in Diagnostic Radiology takes Covey’s eight habits (he later added one after the book's initial publication) and applies them to radiology, while adding a ninth.

     Below are takeaway from the article:           

      1. Be proactive

The first habit encourages purposeful action and anticipatory problem solving rather than embracing a natural reactive state.

Corresponding author Timothy Alves, MD, with the department of radiology at the University of Michigan, and colleagues apply this to procedural systems in radiology.

“In radiology we rely on many systems to keep our patients safe,” Alves et al. wrote. “A proactive review of such systems, such as radiation dose monitoring during computed tomography procedures, benefits not only patients but our respective institutions and our field as a whole.”

        2 . Begin with the end in mind

Writing down big and small goals, with long- or short-term views can serve as a reminder of what a radiologist may hope to accomplish. Using this habit, a young radiologist may be better able to decide how they approach the position. They may develop a research niche, a novel area of clinical expertise or improve as an educator.        

      3. Put first things first

A two-by-two table of prioritization can separate tasks into the important versus unimportant. After visualizing this hierarchy, a radiologist may decide to focus on the top two tasks, while handing off the others to team members.

4. Think win-win

      The ability to empathize with a colleague and envision a solution beneficial to everyone involved will go a long way in problem solving.    

     The goal in working with others should be to find mutually beneficial solutions that ultimately advance patient care,” authors wrote. “Adopting a win-win mindset will lead to better outcomes for all parties involved, and also make the process of finding solutions easier for all involved."

      5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Piggybacking off the win-win mindset, habit five encourage the “fundamental rule of communication that prioritizes understanding others’ viewpoints as a requisite for creating mutually beneficial relationships,” Alves et al. wrote.

6. Synergize

Creating a culture that champions a collaborative environment can achieve far greater things than one that prioritizes independent thinking.

“If one were tackling a quality improvement project to decrease MRI wait times, one could address the problem in an interdisciplinary manner involving referring clinicians, technologists, and clerical staff in a way that would accomplish more than any one person ever could,” the authors wrote.

          7. Sharpen the saw

Effectiveness is not a final state of being, but a continual way of life. Radiologists can incrementally improve by continuing medical education courses, participating in interdisciplinary conferences, and enroll in leadership and development courses.

       8. Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs

“What is your voice as a radiologist? Is it being a practice leader? An outstanding clinician? A quality and safety expert? Teacher? Researcher?” asked authors.

Helping others find the voice within them is a true sign of greatness, according to the eighth habit.

         9. Cultivate gratitude and mindfulness

“Much has been written recently about the epidemic of physician burnout, and radiology is no exception. Cultivating gratitude and practicing mindfulness are simple ways a radiologist can help prevent or counteract burnout,” Alves et al. wrote.