Expectations vs Reality Upon Graduating Radiology Residency (I Hate To Burst Your Bubble!)
During residency, most physician trainees are studying and working so hard that they vaguely realize what is in store for them when they finish their training and begin their first job. In fact, what they expect often times differs dramatically from reality. So, I thought that this would be an interesting post to give you the lowdown on some expectations versus the reality when you start as an attending. We will cover 6 employment topics including money, job performance expectations, importance of the bottom line, teamwork, case sign off, and feedback.
You begin residency and see these large salaries that come across on your email from recruiters. And, you hear stories of friends doing really well at their first job, making tons of money that they don’t even know what to do with.
Many residents consume themselves thinking about the relatively “large salaries” they will earn once they are finished with their residency. You may think, well, if I can do that for 10 years, I will be out of debt and rich. However, every large salary comes with a price. Either, you will be working like the proverbial “dog” or you may be located in a place very far from your friends and family.
Other new attendings also do not realize the costs that accrue from debts, buying a house, and maintaining a lifestyle of luxury. Often times, these folks go into further debt funding a lifestyle that they cannot afford. Don’t let that be you!
Job Performance Expectations
You have just graduated as a neuroradiologist and you are ready to take your first job. The job post said you would be performing 50 percent neuroradiology and no mammography while on a partnership track. You are excited as can be to not have to read any mammography!!!
As soon as you start, one of the partners asks you if you could help out reading mammography by taking a course and over reading one of the other radiologist’s mammograms. Since one of their mammographers left, they really need the help until they can hire another.
This situation is common in the world of private practice. Sometimes, undue circumstances arrive beyond the practice’s control and your expectations for your work will not exactly align with reality. If you cannot be somewhat flexible, you may not be able to become a partner in the practice!
Importance of the Bottom Line
Your academic nuclear medicine position at a high-powered center of excellence is about to begin in a few days. Since it is a large academic center you figure you will be able to have lots of administrative time to pursue your research interests. Can’t wait!
After a few days of working in your position, the institution issues rules regulating administrative time. If you are unable to obtain a grant to support the institution, you will have very little administrative time.
Don’t assume that a large academic institution does not care about how much money it earns. It needs radiologists to financially support the institution by reading films just as a private practice needs to perform procedures and interpret enough films to stay solvent. An academic institution does not mean lots of free time!!!
You are about to begin your first private practice job and were told that all employees and partners are treated equally. So, you are very excited to begin a career with an equal footing to everyone else.
In your first week of work, a partner asks if you could help him out with reading some extra films because he and his wife want to go to a concert. You tell him that you had early dinner plans with your wife but he continues to insist. You feel you have to stay to complete the work because he is an influential partner in the practice. Bottom line… Everyone is equal but partners are often more equal than others!!!!
You are sick of waiting for your attending radiologist to sign off the reports you dictated a few hours ago. When you finish residency, now you will be able to complete your dictations whenever you are ready!
Now that you are the final reader and the buck stops with you, you become unsure of the findings and want to ask your colleagues prior to completing some of your more complicated reports during your first days of work. Well, now you don’t have to wait for someone else to sign off your reports. Instead, you may need someone else to look at the cases for a second opinion prior to completing the study!!!
The practice partners state that you will get immediate feedback about your progress after 6 months. Furthermore, they say that they can even tell who is going to be partnership material by the first year.
Six months rolls around and no one lets you know about your progress. You think you are doing well but you are not sure. The patients and the clinicians seem to like you. After one year, no one lets you know if you are going to make partnership after the 3 years that you were promised. Unlike residency, feedback can be much more challenging to obtain since it is not designated. There is no guarantee!!!
Becoming a radiology attending is not like entering Shangri-La. There will be new challenges that you do not expect. Along with the added respect, you will have many additional responsibilities. So remember, as a radiology resident, try to prepare yourself for the reality of becoming a radiology attending. So, you will not be surprised about what to expect when you begin!!!