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An open letter to soon-to-be radiologists

March 24, 2020
Business Affairs
From the March 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Dr. David Gruen

Congratulations! You’ve decided to become a radiologist, and we can’t wait to have you join our ranks.
As the profession enters its second century, the future for both the field of radiology, and for those who practice it, is truly brilliant. After at least ten years of training, you’re ready to jump in, to start evaluating your employment options, and to finally sign your own name to that MRI, PET Scan (or AI Report!). Judging by the number of openings on job boards I follow, there are many opportunities out there waiting for you.

Radiology needs you and, most importantly, patients need you – but you should enter the profession with your eyes wide open. As someone with more than 20 years of experience as a radiologist, allow me to offer a few words of advice. (It has been said that advice is the elevator music of life, but I’m hopeful you’ll find the following helpful):

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There’s no better field for advanced technology
If you want to be at the forefront of leveraging technology, and believe that technologic innovations will continue, to make impactful differences in patient care, radiology is the place for you. As the field evolves from an anatomic to a molecular business, and as there is a growing overlap with genomics, technology will play an increasingly important role in helping you harness huge amounts of data to paint a clearer picture of the patient. Going forward, Radiology will play a large role in personalized medicine, making us essential members of the direct care team.

It’s hard work
Demand for imaging continues to expand and so will the radiologist’s workload. Consider the estimates that we’re reading images every three to four seconds in an eight-hour work day to meet demands. It can be a grind to sit in a dark room, reading case after case. The good news is that, even today, AI can help remove some more routine tasks to free us up to focus on the patients that need us most. That’s why I went into radiology – not to crank through thousands of images hour after hour, but to tackle complex cases and to make challenging diagnoses, that require the skills honed over years of training and practice.

Embrace your specialty
The day of the generalist is becoming a thing of the past and specialists are more in demand. My specialty – women’s imaging – is always changing and advancing. Maintaining up-to-date knowledge is vital to our profession. Although it can be difficult to keep up with the rapidly expanding body of data and evidence, be sure to never stop learning. Your patients and clinical colleagues are counting on your expertise. This is yet another area where technology, including AI, will help you keep pace with significant new clinical findings.

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