Question About Low Imaging Volumes:
Hi. I am an R2. I’ll most likely do a fellowship in body imaging (mostly because I haven’t felt a click with any particular specialty). I keep reading about practices firing radiologists because of low imaging volumes due to COVID. I’m concerned that this will affect me when I apply for jobs because I am only interested in private practice. I want to position myself with some advantages, and I need your advice on how to do this. I particularly enjoy the IT aspects of radiology (troubleshooting PACS, EMR, making software more efficient, automation, computer hardware). In my residency, there is a faculty member who is the “Director of IT.” And, I might be interested in a role like this.
My question is, do you think this is something that is even an advantage if you are seeking private practice? If so, how can I enter this space? Is there a course? Do I do research? If this is a bad idea, are there other things I can do during residency to give myself an advantage when it comes time to apply for a job in private practice?
What should I do?
Armaments To Prevent Job Loss
These are excellent questions, and I have a few answers! Let’s start with the first one about practices firing employees because of low imaging volumes. First of all, this Covid situation will most likely all but disappear by the time you graduate residency. Nevertheless, one of the best protection against getting canned is to become invaluable in whatever area that you practice. That niche can be informatics/IT. However, it all depends on the type of practice where you work.
If you aim to work at a small private practice somewhere, it will probably not help all that much. If you work for a larger institution or an academic center, it can help a lot, depending on what you do. In an educational sort of setting, if you are pumping out tons of papers and creating lots of programs/IT solutions for your colleagues, no one will want to let you go. Alternatively, if you are in charge of a massive corporate IT program, and the business cannot function well without your knowledge, they will not fire you. On the other hand, if the IT services you provide are just a little help, and the clinical work that you provide to the practice is not so much. Well, then you will not have the same job security.
At this stage of your career, work hard, and perform well in residency regardless of your fellowship. Learn about all aspects of radiology as much as you can so that you can establish a niche for yourself when you leave your residency. To repeat, most folks that are good at what they do will be the last to be fired.
How To Get Into Information Technology
Next, how can you enter this IT space? Well, some of it depends on how much experience you have in IT already. If you don’t have the knowledge that you would need to take over the IT at a practice, you would probably want to look into the Informatics fellowship. This fellowship will give you the basics of what you will need to know about IT for radiology practices. There, you can establish connections that you would need to find a career. Additionally, research in your area of specialty is never a bad idea during residency or fellowship, especially if you want to follow the more academic path.
So, there you have it. Work hard, learn as much as you can about radiology, consider an informatics fellowship (if that is what you want), and perform a niche in a practice that others have a hard time filling. These are the ingredients that will keep you in practice regardless of the Covid or any other unfortunate situation that may arise to lower imaging volumes for radiologists.
Barry Julius, MD