Aspiring radiologists need a helping hand

An article in this issue of FierceMedicalImaging looks at a recent study in the European Journal of Radiology that found that radiology training programs in Canada are afflicted by what the researchers call a "hidden culture of isolationism," marked by negative stereotypes of the specialty that haven't entirely disappeared.

In the study, several residents reported that they have colleagues who still perceive radiology as a specialty that is practiced alone, in some dark room in the basement. That, by itself, is a reputation the specialty doesn't need if it wants to attract bright young physicians into the field. But to make matters worse, some residents even report that clinicians they know have concerns about how easy radiologists are to work with on a day-to-day basis.

Residents in these Canadian programs also lament that experienced radiologists aren't doing enough to educate them and provide them with the mentoring they need to succeed. The reason for this seems to be that radiologists are just too busy to provide this kind of guidance.

If the Canadian study is generalizable across the border into the U.S., it could be another sign that radiology may become an increasingly less attractive career choice for young physicians. The New York Times highlighted this in a recent article in which it described how deep Medicare cuts, cut-rate competition driven by technology, questions about the health risks and value of many imaging tests and procedures, and efforts to move public money to primary care all are damaging the specialty and suppressing job prospects for aspiring radiologists.

What should be done? Well, if the Canadian study is to be believed, Richard Gunderman, vice chair of the department of radiology at Indiana University, was on to something when he suggested that young radiologists have a "role model or a mentor" to look up to. Clearly these are the kinds of relationships that budding radiologists value.

Additionally, as David Levin, M.D., and Vijay Rao, M.D. said in a recent article in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, radiologists should make a greater effort to get more young doctors into the specialty, even if that means losing some income so more fellows can be hired. The status quo, they said, is unacceptable because it could end up reducing the prestige of the specialty.

And that's a no-win situation for both the veteran and aspiring radiologist. - Mike  @FierceHealthIT

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