We are in a brave new world. A great job market for starting radiologists is associated with a tough time with radiologist recruitment. And it’s a nationwide problem—tons of work but few radiologists to complete it. So, like many new radiologists, what do you do if you consider joining a practice with skeleton coverage? Should you join these practices or move on to the next “fully staffed” large conglomerate? What are the main risks that you will encounter when starting? Is it at all worth thinking about these practices with skeleton coverage? Let’s figure out if you are the type of person who should consider such a practice!
Advantages Of Skeleton Coverage
Lots Of Opportunities For Moonlighting
When I started, I was hungry for additional shifts to help pay down my student loans. And those spots were not always available. But, in an environment like this, with thinly covered practices, you will have many opportunities. Nights, weekends, and teleradiology coverage will all most likely be available to you, ripe for the picking. You can pay down your debts and save a bit for a new house in no time!
Opportunities For Leadership Positions
A thin bench will create many opportunities for you to become part of almost any organization role right from the bat. If you are interested in hospital administration, you can begin on this path to fulfill your ambitions from the beginning. Are you interested in teaching? Start on your merry way toward becoming a program director, no competition! Or want to become the practice’s CEO eventually? Take on financial roles immediately. You will have very little competition to get started at these positions!
Potentially A Quicker Path To Partnership/Owner
The more needed you are, the more leverage you have. And, if you have enough radiologists barely to fill the rosters, guess what? You may be able to use that leverage to up your time until you can become an owner. Think about it. You have the potential to increase your earnings significantly, more than you may have thought when you first started looking.
Disadvantages/Risks Of Skeleton Coverage
Ripe For Buyout
A thin bench can mean that radiologists can no longer take on the extra workload. It’s just not sustainable. And the casualty can be the sale of the practice to a private equity firm. Caveat emptor- may the buyer beware!
More than any other factor, working with fellow radiologists with low morale can be a real downer. And, no factors more than a thin shell of coverage can cause your fellow radiologists to be stressed and miserable. Especially when you are raring to start at your first new practice, this is not the toxic environment you had signed up for when you first applied for the job.
Sure, you have all these extra opportunities. But, at what cost? Now that you are missing out on a nucs guy, you have to cover the PET-CTs. Or, maybe you have to cover all these extra available shifts you were not planning to work. If you’ve recently had a baby or have lots of other hobbies that you want to pursue, additional opportunities can be a curse instead of a blessing.
Should You Join A Practice With Skeleton Coverage?
It can be a tough call. But, it depends on your needs and wants. For the new radiologist with lots of ambition, it can be the right decision with lots of opportunities and time to make extra money. But be careful. It can be at the expense of a sell-out by your fellow radiologists or just a plain old miserable environment. So, consider all these factors when joining a practice with a thin bench!