Students and physicians compartmentalize the different medical subspecialties into different personality types. And from what I hear, stereotypical radiologists tend to be introverts (formal definition- shy, reticent people). But, do most of us radiologists prefer to be alone? And, can extroverts thrive in the radiology specialty? I will try to answer these questions and give you my thoughts about the personality of the folks in my field.
Are Most Radiologists Introverts?
Well, I believe that, on the whole, radiologists lean toward the introverted portion of the personality spectrum. I mean… Can many extroverts stand to sit in front of a computer for hours at a time culling through images and dictating reports? You need to spend a bit of time on your own in between interruptions. On the other hand, you probably know a few radiologists that are not wall-flowers. Most of the more extroverted radiologists gravitate toward the field of interventional radiology or mammography, fields with more frequent patient interactions. Additionally, many of these extroverts enjoy performing additional highly social responsibilities such as heads of medical staff, chairs of departments, or hospital administration. All these roles benefit from an extroverted, gregarious sort. But, these folks tend to be the minority.
Why Do Some Introverts Thrive In Radiology?
OK. So, the field lends itself to a more introverted personality. But why is it that introverts have the potential to thrive in radiology? Some of the noted qualities of introverts, such as paying sharp attention to detail and processing large amounts of data, are personality traits that allow an introvert to succeed. And, no matter what your colleagues say, introverts have the potential to enjoy fewer personal interactions in radiology than in other fields such as medicine or surgery. These features of radiology allow the introvert to thrive in his profession.
Nevertheless, the typical introvert needs to learn some extrovert skills. For example, with the many phone calls we make and the numerous technologists and nurses we must manage, it is next to impossible to bury one’s head in the sand. And to run a group as a stakeholder, the introverted radiologist needs to learn leadership skills. Completely isolating oneself from others does not work well in our profession.
Why Do Some Extroverts Thrive In Radiology?
In baseball, we find the lefty pitcher more likely to succeed because he throws differently from most pitchers. Likewise, the extrovert is likelier to shine in a group of individuals dominated by introverts. Every group needs folks that can shmooze with the right people, interact well with the administration, and lead a group toward success. These folks tend to shy away from some of the more analytical independent areas of radiology. And many opportunities exist that require the skills of the extrovert in our field. The introvert cannot go it alone!
Introverts/Extroverts- Does It Matter?
In our field, no one size fits all. We both need introverted and extroverted radiologists for our profession to thrive. A group without an extrovert is a recipe for disaster, with poor communication skills leading to anarchy. And, a group without the analytical skills of an introvert will not last long. So, let us try to appreciate one another for who we are. In the end, the best groups are a combination of both.