You wake up to go to work. Maybe, you grind through what seems like a hundred films with your attending. And then, you arrive home exhausted, only to start reading books and case reviews. The work of a radiology resident never ends. So, how do residents find the inspiration they need to get themselves through the day, study for the core exam, and get through the entire residency? And, what can residents do to have a fulfilling four years? Unfortunately, very few radiologists have the time and wherewithal to think about the plight of the resident. But, I plan to tackle these issues today. Think of this post as chicken soup for the radiology resident, concepts one needs to tough things out for four difficult years.
Yes, You Will Save Some Lives
Never forget this fact. Imaging saves lives. And, who interprets the images? You! So, get yourself right out of that funk. And, remember we are not financiers, accountants, or lawyers. We directly prevent significant injuries and death!
Have A Hobby/Life Outside Of Residency
As much as you may love radiology, it is just as important to actively seek other interests. I don’t care if it is swimming, stamps, reading, or traveling. Having a hobby enables you to come back to work fresh and ready for the next day. Sometimes, coming back to studying and working markedly improves when you have a fresh mind. Studies have shown that creativity and productivity also improve when you pursue activities outside your main interests. Why not let that be you? (1)
Sometimes It’s Not Just About The Work, It’s About You!
Inspiration does not only come from your patients and your films. Rather, feeling inspired stems from your own moods and wants. In order to take care of others, you need to also take care of yourself. So, remember… You have a responsibility to yourself to cater yourself at times. Take a little time to yourself when things become tough studying. Or, if you lose focus during the day, sometimes you need to step away for a few moments. In order to regain your concentration, you need to refresh yourself!
Sounds a little strange that maintaining health can inspire you to become a great radiologist, right? Well, if you do not eat well, exercise, and sleep, it becomes much more likely for a resident to burn out before he has even finished residency! So, make sure to treat your body right!
Learning From Mistakes Can Be Inspiring
Mistakes are depressing and ugly, right? Well, if you continue to think that way, you should not become a radiologist. Expect mistakes. It’s part of the risk profile of our job (Although attorneys would think otherwise!) In fact one study, reported a significant error rate that ranges between 2 and 20% of all radiologist reports. (Br J Radiol. 2001 Oct;74(886):949-51.)
So, we need to become inspired to do better. How do we do that? Well, think of each mistake you or others make as an opportunity to prevent significant errors from happening again. If you want to get closer to perfection, we need to inspire ourselves learn from these mistakes, knowing that we will not miss that finding or make that knowledge error another time!
Appreciate What You Have Accomplished
Think about what the goals you have met to become a radiologist. You have completed college, medical school, and internship. And, remember all those tests that you have aced and passed to get to this point. This is a real accomplishment!. Be proud of what you have achieved. You are not an average Joe. Rather, you have done what many folks can only dream about. And, if you have already gotten this far, imagine how far you can go… If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will!
Think About The End Goal
Inspiration often does not come from what you are doing right now. Many times, it comes from dreaming about what will be. So, it’s not about reading that same paragraph over and over to remember or understand a single concept. Rather, it is about how this pertains to the final goal of becoming a great radiologist. Therefore, don’t get stuck on the minutia. It’s about the big picture!
Education As Fun
Education is about the journey, not the destination. That is because we never really arrive. There is always more to learn and see. And, what can be more exciting than to learn new ideas and concepts and apply them to the practical world? As radiologists, that is exactly what we do! So, take each pillar and block of knowledge to form structures that are new and interesting. This can involve taking new ideas to create research projects or looking at studies in a different way that no one has thought about before. You are only limited by your imagination!
Final Thoughts About Finding Inspiration
Inspiration is what makes us tick. It gives us the passion to complete our dreams and go that one step further. However, inspiration does not come from the daily grind. Rather, it comes from our beliefs, hopes, dreams, and goals. So, appreciate what you have accomplished, think about what you do on a daily basis (and yes, that includes saving lives!), and remember your goals for the future. In fact, it’s all pretty amazing. That should be inspiration enough!