James H. Thrall, MD Chairman Emeritus, Department of Radiology Massachusetts General Hospital, Distinguished Taveras Professor of Radiology,
Harvard Medical School
What advice would you give a young radiologist entering the field today?
We posed that question to several radiology luminaries, requesting they offer words of wisdom to their newer colleagues. Digging into their experiences, they shared guidance gleaned from their careers. Find a mentor. Endeavor to improve your reports. Be a physician first. Those are just a few of the gems offered that could prove to be relevant at any stage of a radiologists career. Read on for more advice from the experts, presented here in their own words. Those entering radiology today will need to deal with continued major advances in new technology and new clinical applications of imaging. Make a commitment to career long education to learn to apply new methods and stay up-to-date. This is incredibly challenging, as I know personally from having trained before CT, MRI and PET were available clinically. Stay within your knowledge zone — you cannot do everything. Unfortunately, some, perhaps many, radiologists practice in areas outside their expertise, which is bad for patient care but also undermines the credibility of our specialty. The strength of any medical specialty over the long run depends in part on strong professional organizations. They establish technical and clinical practice standards, facilitate the exchange of new knowledge and serve as our advocates for regulatory and legislative issues. They are vital to us in the never-ending competition between specialties for turf. Make a commitment to become a member of and to actively participate in and support the radiology professional organizations related to your practice interests. For at least the last decade, dozens of radiology groups have lost their contracts each year largely because they have not correctly assessed the value equation between what they offer and how they behave versus what their hospitals are looking for. The days of protective manpower shortages and entitled behavior are over. More than ever, radiologists now need to be active participants in their institutions beyond interpreting imaging studies and be regarded as good citizens in their institutions. Hospitals are looking for team-oriented physicians who understand organizational needs in care coordination, quality and safety and operational efficiency among other topics. Make a career long commitment to participating within your institution on committees, in medical staff governance, community outreach and in other supporting activities. Become a leader and someone who is regarded as exemplifying the best in organizational values and behavior.