Radiologist Job Description:
The description of a radiologist is one who serves as an imaging consultant to clinicians to guide them through to the most appropriate imaging for a given clinical condition, taking into account efficacy of the exam, cost of the exam, and safety of the exam (radiation dose, magnetic fields, etc). The duties of a radiologist also include rendering an accurate and timely interpretation of all imaging studies performed, and, when intervention is needed, providing a painless intervention (i.e. image-guided biopsy).
Why did you pursue a medical career?
My decision to go into medicine as a career was a rather unorthodox path. I had a couple of older cousins who were in medical school, but they had very little influence. My dad was a physical chemist and he wanted me to pursue that career. My mom was a nurse at the University of Arkansas Infirmary and didn't care what I did. I decided to major in astrophysics (sounded really neat) and went to the University of Rochester.
But I found I simply was not intuitive enough to excel in this esoteric field. So I switched my major to General Science. My girlfriend, at the time, wanted to marry a doctor. The possibility of entering medicine sounded okay, so I switched to pre-med. I took the MCATs, did well, and was accepted to four out of five schools to which I applied (Rochester, Northwestern, University of Arkansas, and University of Kentucky). I went to Northwestern, but never married the girl.
How did you choose a radiologist career?
I started out as an urologist, practiced it for several years and obtained my boards in Urology. However, I discovered that a surgical specialty was not for me. When switching from urology, I needed a new specialty that could build on my skills in urology; radiology allowed me to combine the two. Taking it a step further, radiology was very appealing because it combines the clinical presentation of a patient and the findings on appropriate imaging studies, making it likely that one can arrive at a specific diagnosis.
Can you recall any memorable moments during your radiologist career?
One case early on was memorable: a young woman with intractable hypertension was found to have a small mass in the upper pole of her right kidney. In reviewing the literature, I found that in a young woman, a small sub-capsular mass in the polar region of the kidney, which is hypovascular, is likely to have a rare benign tumor known as a reninoma - which secretes renin and causes very bad hypertension. We told the urologists our diagnosis, and the patient underwent a partial nephrectomy and was cured on the operating table.
What do you like about being a radiologist?
Radiology is very high tech, involves little direct patient contact and provides a good lifestyle. Also, radiology cuts across most all specialties; it is a very challenging field. Further, because radiology does not link the physician irrevocably to a group of patients who need care on a regular basis, I have been able to pursue my interest of service in organized radiology at the regional, state and national levels. Being a radiology chair also gives me more control over my time, and I was able to become involved in several organizations at leadership levels; it has been a very rewarding career.
Is it true that some radiology is being outsourced to India?
Very little radiology is being outsourced to India or elsewhere overseas. There are, however, "nighthawk" radiology groups in the U.S. which read studies for various hospitals via “tele-radiology” during evening and off hours. Some of these groups actually have American-trained radiologists spending time in Israel or Australia and reading the night work from the U.S. during the daytime there. Many radiology practices, on the other hand, take great pride in providing 24/7 coverage of emergency cases.
What is the average radiologist yearly salary?
As far as the salaries of a radiologist, some salary surveys indicate that the average radiologist yearly salary is about $300K. This may be correct for academic radiologists, but I suspect it is far higher for private practice radiologists. Chairs of academic radiology departments probably earn in the salary range of $500K. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) publishes an annual salary survey where average academic salaries are given by specialty, geographic location, academic rank and type of medical school (public or private).
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