After reading a gazillion personal statements and participating in another bazillion interviews, I would be a kazillionaire if I had a dollar for every time I read that a medical student will make a successful radiologist because of one of their hobbies. And, if you gave me a small rock for every time a medical student claims that they are great at one of these hobbies and how that applies to radiology, I would be sitting on top of Mount Everest! So, do hobbies have any correlation whatsoever with becoming a high-quality radiologist? The answer to that question is yes. But, not the way you might think at first. And indeed, not in the way most folks add their hobbies to their personal statement.
So, let’s go through some of the more common hobbies applicants think will make them great radiologists. Next, I will disclose why applicants believe these hobbies make them higher-quality radiologists. But, of course, I will debunk this perceived correlation. Finally, I will reveal how hobbies help the average radiologist!
One of the most popular themes in personal statements is the correlation between becoming an excellent radiologist and one’s love for photography. I often hear how they can see subtleties and make those same findings on a film. Well, I can think of several resident photographers, and their radiology abilities are all over the map. Some are excellent radiologists, and others are more average. So, I am not sure if this skill makes a significant difference in your findings skills.
Like photography, I have seen tons of applicants talking about video games as one of their hobbies. A more rarified few will claim that they are extraordinary competitive video gamers and have won prizes or cash for their endeavors. On this point, I have seen several articles talking about improved hand-eye coordination. But, it can also lead to distractions and decreased reading during residency. So, I feel that in terms of becoming a better radiologist, playing video games is kind of a wash.
Like the photographer, these folks talk about their love for paintings and museums. Others will even paint pictures themselves, some that have even made it to a gallery or two. And then folks tend to claim that they have a “good eye.” It is also a typical statement that I hear about in recommendations that usually tell me nothing. Why? Anyone can make this claim, and it is hard to back it up with facts as a medical student. Nevertheless, this hobby is a popular radiology applicant pursuit. In and of itself, I am not sure if it correlates that well with quality!
Here is a hobby that I also love. I prefer to eat my food than the food I purchase at restaurants. And, it does involve some hand-eye coordination, creativity, and knowledge. However, when I look at the applications of incoming medical students, I find nearly every other one has the same hobby. Because it is so prevalent in society, it doesn’t add much except for an excellent conversation between myself and the interviewee!
Music And The Successful Radiologist
We have all sorts of “radiologists-to-be” that either listen to, play, or dance to all kinds of music. For those that play different instruments (like myself), it undoubtedly is a great outlet to have fun and mix with other like-minded bandmates and friends. And, for the dancers and players among us, these folks may have slightly better hand-eye coordination. (plus or minus) Some may DJ on the weekends, and others may perform gigs. The extra time can detract from residency studying or improve hand-eye coordination. Nevertheless, I don’t see a strong correlation between the love for music and becoming a better radiologist in the way you might think!
So, How Do Hobbies Correlate With Becoming A Successful Radiologist?
Well, here is the kicker! None of these hobbies have much to do with the quality of radiologist that you will become. (as much as you might think!) However, having a hobby is more important than the hobby itself. You have something else to discuss and fall back upon when things may not go your way during residency. So, don’t worry about your hobby per se and how it will turn you into a great radiologist. It will not transform you into the “radiologist Excalibur.” In that respect, it is not so important. But add your hobbies to your application because it adds to your persona and character. We do like real people in our specialty of radiology!