During residency, life will present you with many options. Sometimes you can decide to study for the boards instead of actively seeking to learn new procedures or experiences. Or, there will be times when you can get out of work early in the afternoon because you went to a half-day conference, and no one is taking attendance anyway. But, radiology residency is only four years. And, the time you have to learn new procedures with experienced professionals and make the mistakes you need to make before you go out into the real world is limited. You may not realize now how critical it is to spend extra time learning what you can and taking advantage of each moment you have as a resident to know your future trade. Hopefully, you will have decades to practice and form the basis of this career in these four years. And half the battle of residency is just showing up. Here is why.
Technical Procedure Practice
Every procedure you complete later adds to your work’s cognitive and muscle memory. And, each time you do a technique again, you are adding a body of knowledge that you will eventually refer to you. It can be something simple as the best way to position a patient. Or, it can be a more complex set of wire movements. We become a bit better each time we complete one of these procedures.
Making Mistakes Now Instead Of Blindly Later
Because we are human, we will make mistakes. And the more mistakes you can make in a protected environment, the less likely you will make those same mistakes later in your career. If you miss a pulmonary nodule as a resident, it’s not a big deal. If you miss that same pulmonary nodule as an attending, it could be the beginning of a horrible lung cancer and a potential lawsuit. The more you miss now that your faculty picks up, the more you are likely to concentrate on those same areas later on so that you will never forget them again.
Showing Up To Expose Yourself To More Incidental Findings
In practice, some of the most complex parts of radiology are not necessarily the specific disease entities. Instead, it is those pesky findings that we make that we can’t but see. Some of them, like pulmonary nodules, have defined Fleishner criteria for following them. However, most don’t have particular rules. And, sometimes, you have to rely on your experience to figure out what to do next. That is something that you can only receive by showing up and reading!
New Disease Entities/Presentations
The more times you see cases, the more likely you will see new presentations of diseases that you know and other findings of pathology that you don’t. It’s like a lottery. Eventually, after a certain number of times, your number will come up due to the odds alone. Why not increase those odds by showing up to your training during residency?
Subconscious Identification Of Normal Variants
Finally, sometimes it’s not the material that we know. Instead, it might be the little findings that we don’t pick up. Subtle curves and lines we all pick up each time we look at an image. Sometimes, we are unsure which ones we can disregard and which are critical. It is only through putting through the motions of reading lots of cases that we can get to the point of confidence. All it takes is to show up!
Every Moment Of Showing Up To Residency Is Important!
Those moments you take advantage of instead of sitting back contribute to your overall body of knowledge even though you may not think much about it at the time. So, take the bull by the horns and practice technique, make mistakes now, and expose yourself to incidental findings, new disease entities, and normal variants to become the seasoned radiologist you need to be. Showing up is half the battle!