In an opinion article, Dr. Thomas Kwee, PhD, of University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands and colleagues shared 10 survival tips based on firsthand experience and the observations of other junior radiologists.
"Our purpose was to fill in some important practical knowledge gaps that are typically not addressed in traditional residency programs," the authors wrote.
1. Match expectations.
When entering the job market, explore whether the potential new environment matches one's competencies and interests. Acquiring this knowledge demonstrates professional maturity and matching realistic expectations is the key for success and satisfaction from both sides.
2. Check your contract.
Only written contracts facilitate a proper assessment of the parties' intent and establish certainty of the contractual terms. Oral agreement may be revoked without any legal or financial repercussions. The interpretation of a contract and conducting negotiations may be complex, especially in private practice. In such a situation, it may be recommended to consult legal or financial advisors.
3. Check your insurance.
Before getting involved in patient care, it is crucial to have medical liability insurance. The risk of becoming the defendant in a lawsuit, for instance, should be reflected in the policy. Newly starting radiologists should also consider occupational disability and term life insurances.
4. Manage your finances well.
Although 76% of medical students in the U.S. graduate with an educational debt, financial competency traditionally is not a part of a radiology residency training program. Consider taking a course to increase your financial literacy. For newly starting radiologists who lack financial literacy, a financial advisor may be a good solution.
5. Mentally prepare to be under the magnifying glass.
During the first few months, the group will decide whether you "get it" or not. Being under the magnifying glass can be considered an inevitable process one has to go through, for which one needs to be mentally prepared. Find individual ways to cope with stressors.
6. Achieve, but beware of burnout.
Newly starting radiologists are generally enthusiastic and excited, but the initial make-or-break period can be intense. Time management is crucial. Direct access to reliable reference works minimizes time loss when reading complex cases that require looking up information. Get acquainted with local protocols, workflows, and guidelines.
"Importantly, since most radiologists begin with their first job in their 30s, it is not surprising that age < 40 years is associated with burnout. Newly starting radiologists should understand this risk, self-reflect, be aware of burnout symptoms, and look for solutions in a timely manner," the authors noted.
7. Be knowledgeable of potential sources of errors.
A major source of stress for many newly starting radiologists comes from learning to be the "final read." Refreshing and improving knowledge on error prevention will be beneficial. Perform independent reviews before taking notice of the sometimes inexperienced supervising resident's findings and interpretations.
8. Develop skills to teach residents.
Teaching may be among the new tasks of a starting radiologist. It is highly recommended for newly starting radiologists who have a residency program in their department to pursue dedicated teaching courses early on in their career.
9. Watch out for toxic coworkers.
Newly starting radiologists should be aware of toxic coworkers who may exploit the inexperience, naivety, or unfamiliarity with the new working environment for personal gains or by asking favors that can be considered disproportionate. The best tactic is to avoid toxic personalities and to clearly indicate boundaries, nonengagement, and intolerance to unjust behavior.
10. Plan for necessary reaccreditation activities.
In the U.S. and most other western countries, there are mandatory requirements to maintain the radiologist's license to practice. The time and efforts to fulfill these requirements should not be underestimated. Take note of them and plan necessary reaccreditation activities in a timely manner.
"Most of these survival tips can be addressed well in advance before embarking on a new job as a radiologist, and the others can be applied on the job. Our article may also serve as valuable input for residency programs that wish to facilitate the transition from resident to radiologist and for more senior faculty to guide junior radiologists on their first job," the authors concluded.
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