10 survival tips for new radiologists

Transitioning from a resident or fellow to an independent radiologist isn’t easy, particularly given that current training programs don’t spend much time on the topic.

To prep new graduates for the clinical imaging world, a team of experts recently composed 10 tips based on firsthand experience and observations of other junior rads.

Robert M. Kwee, MD, PhD, with Johns Hopkins Hospital’s radiology department, and colleagues shared them Tuesday in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

1. New radiologists should ensure their environment matches their own skills and interests; it’s the key for success and satisfaction for both employee and employer, Kwee et al. wrote.

2. Be sure to receive a written contract—oral agreements can be revoked without any real-world consequences. And don’t forget to thoroughly read these documents, particularly during slow hiring periods. Contracts and negotiations can be complex, and legal or financial advice may help, particularly in private practices.

3. Check all insurance boxes, Kwee and colleagues explained. Medical liability coverage is a must before treating patients, while occupational disability and term life insurances should also be considered.

4. Most young radiologists never learn how to manage their finances nor educational debt. Money issues can significantly impact a new rad, the authors explained. It’s worth considering financial literacy courses or consulting a trained professional

5. New radiologists should be prepared to be “under the magnifying glass,” the authors wrote. That is, experienced doctors will be watching to see if young rads can manage their new environment or if they won’t make it. It’s an inevitable process graduates must mentally prepare for.

6. Starting out as a radiologist is exciting but intense. Many will work overtime to manage workloads, making time management critical, Kwee and colleagues noted. Quickly learning protocols, workflows, and guidelines is important, yet so is not burning out. Understanding those risks, burnout symptoms, self-reflecting, and seeking solutions are all key.

7. Errors are harmful to patients and may have legal, financial and emotional consequences. New radiologists must be aware of potential sources of errors as they become the “final read,” Kwee et al. said. An independent review of residents’ interpretations can help minimize mistakes.

8. Many new rads will be tasked with teaching others, but lack the experience to do so. Young doctors with departmental residency programs may want to pursue teaching courses.

9. Be aware of and avoid toxic coworkers who may exploit inexperience for personal gain, the group warned. Abiding by unreasonable requests will only lead to more of the same.

10. Most countries, including the U.S., require continuing medical education credits or similar activities to maintain radiology licensure. These take time and effort and should be planned for.