Veteran radiologists: Young docs must embrace mentors

While some in the media recently have been rather pessimistic about the future prospects of aspiring radiologists, more experienced radiologists believe their younger colleagues can take several steps to ensure their careers in the specialty are rewarding and fulfilling.

Young radiologists should be ready to embrace new technologies, find and model themselves after mentors, and be physicians first, according to advice given by a number of prominent radiologists in a recent article in Diagnostic Imaging.

For instance, James Thrall, M.D., Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that radiologists entering the field have to be prepared to deal with evolving technologies and new imaging clinical applications, which means being committed to career-long education to stay up-to-date with what's happening in the field.

Thrall also reminded new radiologists to be "active participants in their institutions" so that they can become leaders and members of the hospital community who exemplify "the best in organization values and behavior."

According to Richard Gunderman, M.D., a professor and chair of the department of radiology at Indiana University, young radiologists need to be more than just the practitioners of radiology--they need to "understand how radiology fits into the larger context of medicine."

In addition, he said, young radiologists should understand how the patient fits in to the process as well. Consequently, he or she should model their behavior after mentors they admire, asking what that radiologist would do in certain situations.

Gunderman also urged his younger colleagues to not focus excessively on what it takes to succeed in the profession and, in the process, forget what really intrigues or excites them about the field.

"I think some of us get so busy so caught up in getting the work done and checking off boxes, that we sometimes lose track of our inner compass," Gunderman said. "It's really when we are tending to that that we will be contributing the most."

Meanwhile, Aparna Annam, a pediatric interventional radiology fellow at Baylor College of Medicine, advised young radiologists to always be a physician first. Improving clinical skills and enhancing patient care are what makes for better radiologists when performing imaging studies and interventional procedures, she said.

To learn more:
- see the article in Diagnostic Imaging

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