“You radiologists have it made!”
I have heard this from non-radiology colleagues for most of my 30 years in radiology. Many of our colleagues have preconceived notions about our fantastic work hours, easy call, relaxed work environment, and outrageous overcompensation. After many years, I finally gave up trying to explain to referring physicians why I was in the hospital on a weekend. Teleradiology has only reinforced their preconceptions.
As radiologists we are expected to get the work done promptly and perfectly, not to question the referring physician, and not to expect or require any clinical information. We usually work invisibly with little or no recognition. We can count on hearing about our mistakes, even obvious typographical errors, but only occasionally receive praise for a home run diagnosis.
We expect patients to complain about the bill they received from the doctor they never saw. We expect to bear the brunt of angry patients who have had a bad experience in a hospital system that we don’t control. We expect referring physicians to not read our reports, accept our recommendations, or ask for help in devising an intelligent diagnostic approach to a complicated medical case.
After 30 years, I have come to terms with these realities.
What disturbs me is the low value that society seems to place on our work. We are doing more and more for less and less. As one of my former partners frequently says, “No reason is too small to deny or delay payment.”
Every radiologist I know seems to deal with these issues in a different way. Some seem oblivious, some do the minimum to get by, and others get very stressed and grumble a great deal. The same partner mentioned above told me, “I just want to ride this trick pony for as long as I can.”
These things seem to bother me more than most and I freely acknowledge that is my problem. There are a great many things, if not most, that we cannot control.
My financial advisor (now wife) introduced me to the book “Don’t Retire, REWIRE!” by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners that helped me explore ways of finding something fulfilling to do that fueled my passion, suited my personality, and generated an income.
By careful financial planning and focusing on the things I could control, I was able to go part time in radiology and pursue a non-medical career in financial planning. Choosing when I work and limiting the scope of my practice have greatly improved my attitude and lessened my stress level.
Knowing that I could afford to make the change was the most powerful experience of all. Being able to enjoy holidays and special occasions with family while continuing to help people live the life they want and take care of the ones they love brings me great satisfaction.
What can you do to improve your life?