Residency Just Starting And I Am Panicking!
Hi Dr. Julius,
I read your article on the struggling radiology resident and it prompted me to contact you. I am an R1 and just finished my first week on Body CT. After this week, I feel panicked and have been attempting to study almost every chance I get including all day during the weekend. Still, I feel that I cannot possibly learn all this information (just the anatomy base I need has got me worried). I know it is still early on but I feel my colleagues feel way more relaxed and comfortable in their current roles than I do. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions you have for me.
Thank you so much for this article and your help,
A Concerned Resident
Detailing The Problem
To begin, I just want to stress that your colleagues who appear as if they are more relaxed and comfortable may be putting on their best face. It can be very difficult to tell how another resident or colleague really feels. Regardless how they appear, you shouldn’t worry about them. Rather, you need to make sure you are doing your best.
I don’t care what anyone says. The first weeks of the first year of radiology are some of the toughest. Anyone who doesn’t think so is in for a big surprise later on. It’s actually good to have a little bit of fear at the beginning. It can motivate a new resident to become really great. Excessive fear, however, is no good. You certainly don’t want a fight or flight response!!! Or, you can burn yourself out before you’ve even started. That will make you make you sick…
Not only that, I think body CT can be one of the more difficult rotations to feel comfortable on, especially at the beginning. Some of the personalities can often be difficult in that field. And, there is more anatomy to know than you may have ever imagined. This is more so than another specialty like nuclear medicine. Plus, you have to start to get to know the pathologies on top of that. So, I know you are in tough spot.
Solving The Panicking Problem
But alas, there is a solution. I find that the best way to deal with a tough situation, like the beginning of the first year of radiology is to establish a reasonable plan of attack. You and I know you cannot know everything. Albeit, many of your attendings may make you feel that way. (you have to try to tune that nonsense out) However, you can learn the crucial things that you need to know to become an effective first-year resident. The key here is to study smartly. Certain books are geared to the first year resident. For instance, the Webb Body CT book is a great and short resource to learn the basics of body CT scan. You really need to concentrate on these.
In addition, the style of reading in radiology is very different from what you have been accustomed to in the past. Make sure to read the pictures first; the captions next; and then the text last. This will give you the most bangs for your buck when you are reading radiology. Once you have the basics down of a modality within the first week or two, I would also emphasize reading case review series. Radiology is about pictures. So, why would you not want to emphasize the pictures? Memorizing lists is daunting and usually not very fruitful without context. Looking at a bunch of images makes a list more relevant and memorable. Try to study in this manner.
Also, I would recommend you take a look at my article on taking oral cases. Being able to take cases orally is readily transferable to your day-to-day radiology activities. If you can do that well, your colleagues and attendings will appreciate your intelligent assessments more.
In any case, let me know if there is any thing else I can help you with. With a little change in the method of studying and trying not to worry about how others look compared to you during your first year (which can make you crazy), I think you can do just fine.
Hi Dr. Julius,
Thank you so much for reaching out to me with your advice. I am doing my best to stay positive and study hard. I will let you know how it goes. Thank you!!!
A Concerned Resident
It takes some time to get into the routine. Good luck with it!!!