Advanced Training For CT Technologists

Advice For New Radiologists. And Techs?

burnout career relations with radiology staff technologist Apr 22, 2021

So I came across this article giving tips to the newly graduated radiologists and although I agreed with the tips, many of them were just a little too obvious and actually left out a very important detail.

I’ll do a summary of the article and some editorializing along the way and then give you some final take away points as someone who is seasoned and have been practicing for over 15 years. And I have to say, my work and teaching experience is pretty diverse. I have worked in the academic setting, and in both small and large institutions. I have worked in a VA hospital and have been deployed overseas and utilized locally as a radiologist with the Army. I also have experience working in an outpatient imaging center, a small hospital based practice and done some tele-radiology work. It seems like I have done everything, which isn’t far from the truth. Anyway, let’s get going here with my impeccable analysis.

Why is this relevant to CT techs or rad techs? Read to the end and you’ll see. Also, much of the advice from the article can also be applied to a technologist starting a new job or position. As you read through the my commentary, see how it would apply to your career. Anyway, ten points were addressed in the article, so here we go.

Number 1 was match expectations.

This basically that has to do with being realistic about your expectations and matching that with your ability/abilities. I guess one example here would be, don’t claim to be a chest or pulmonary expert when you did a musculoskeletal fellowship. And perhaps, if you know you are a slower reader, don’t claim to be super efficient and someone who can jump on a list and just crank. Pretty self explanatory.

Number 2 was check your contract. 

OK, so yes, obviously you are going to be signing a contract for employment and it makes sense to read through that as best you can and if something sounds funny or fishy, run it by some friends with experience and a lawyer.

Number 3 was check your insurance.

Yeah, I get this, but what practice or hospital is going to be hiring a radiologist without having some sort of medical malpractice contract in place. It’s just a given that you are going to have malpractice insurance. And your contract will look just like everyone else’s contract in your group. There is little to do here as far as malpractice. Maybe just make sure there is some sort of tail coverage. Other insurance…. well if your position comes with benefits, then yes you should get some sort of disability and life insurance as well and you may want to purchase supplemental contracts separately for reasons that we cannot get into in this article. This is a longer discussion based on your family, lifestyle and financial situation and leads into the next topic.

Number 4 was manage your finances well.

Come on. How the hell are you supposed to do that if you don’t know how. You just went through four years of medical school, an internship year and another four years of residency and possibly a fellowship. Managing finances is not your forte. In fact, there is a good chance you have a ton of debt at this point. You basically should be hiring someone you trust to do this for you and it may take you a while to find that trustworthy steward of your finances and investments. Doing this yourself, coming right out of residency or fellowship, is not a good idea in my opinion. You really want to get to know your new position for a while and get some experience under your belt first, before you would consider taking on this sort of chore without help. My advice is to pay someone else to do it for you in the beginning and if you can financially educate yourself over time, then consider taking over control. And there are many reasons why you would want to get a good financial education. Again, a full discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of a short article and I’m surprised they even included it in their top ten.

Number 5 was mentally prepare to be under the magnifying glass. 

Yeah this was another obvious one. Of course your new colleagues will certainly be watching you during this probation period. If you are a strong worker and want to do the right thing in your new position and make a good impression, then this really won’t be an issue and ties in with my point on number 6 which is next.

Number 6 was achieve, but beware of burnout.

OK, so we all know what burnout is. And right off the bat here, I don’t agree with this statement at all. If there’s any time in your new position or career where you really don’t want to worry about burning out, it is in your first couple of years. This is where you make a name for yourself and demonstrate that you are a valuable member of the team. You can worry about burnout later, after you’ve been practicing for 10 years or something. During these early years, you really want to be the one coming in early and leaving late and cranking out those cases and really demonstrating to your new group that you are pulling your weight and that your group made a good decision by hiring you. If you are worried about burnout right after you start the new gig, then you are blowing a huge opportunity to make yourself look like a solid radiologist.

Number 7 was be knowledgeable of potential sources of errors.

This is another obvious one. Yes of course you should be proofreading your reports and making sure you’re following your checklist and looking at every organ, providing a good differential and making the proper recommendations based on some sort of standard, for example, like the Fleischner Society for lung nodules or an ACR “white paper”.

Number 8 was develop skills to teach residents. 

I guess the article is geared towards an academic radiologist. After all, the article was written by a bunch of MD/PHD’s, so I’m not surprised. But even if you are staying in the academic setting, I’m not entirely sure how you do this. From my experience, you are either a good teacher or you’re not and some of that comes from how you were taught. If you weren’t taught well or you worked with a bunch of people who weren’t good teachers, well then there’s a decent chance that you won’t be able to pass on good skills or knowledge to others in an efficient way. I don’t know, maybe this isn’t true and I’m just making stuff up, but I remember having all sorts of instructors that I worked with through my training years and some more excellent and others were certainly lacking. I do believe that this skill can be learned, but if you aren’t very skilled in teaching naturally, then you have a lot of work cut out for you. On the flip side, if you aren’t in a center that has residents, then this doesn’t really apply for the most part. I’m currently not doing any academic teaching in the traditional sense, but I am involved in CT technologist education and training, which I have found very fulfilling and worthwhile. More about that later.

Number 9 was watch out for toxic coworkers. 

Again, this is another obvious recommendation. Why would anyone not watch out for toxic coworkers, no matter what job or career you were in? I really don’t think this sort of advice is all that helpful.

Number 10 was plan for necessary reaccreditation activities.

OK so yes, you have to get a certain number of continuing education credits every year. We all know that. This is not a mystery. Again, I don’t think the authors are really adding value here. And most of the time, your new group will have someone who is tracking your CME credits and making sure you are staying up to date.

So overall, I found the article bland, very generic and filled with a bunch of “captain obvious”. It felt like a lot of blah blah blah. And one of the major problems I had with this article was that it does not mention anything regarding building strong relationships with your technologist colleagues. You know, those fantastic people producing all the images in MR, CT, x-ray, ultrasound and nuclear medicine. I have found on numerous occasions that good relationships with my technologist colleagues have saved my butt, more than just a few times. Things like discussing certain customized protocols and procedures with your technologists not only helps you, but also allows your techs to see what your thought process is, especially when you are problem-solving a non-routine case. And many times, your techs will add something valuable that you haven’t even thought of. Perhaps they have seen the exact issue before. Perhaps they solved it on their own or worked through a difficult situation with another radiologist. Trust me, this stuff comes up and this sort of experience is invaluable on all sides. The relationship with your technologists should not be overlooked and this article spent zero time on it. 

So that’s my big gripe. Most of their advice was something you would expect to hear from just about anyone offering tips to new employees, regardless of their career. What makes medicine and particularly radiology different than many other professions is the close nature of the relationships you need to have with your technologist colleagues to be efficient at your job and actually be able to run a busy practice/hospital on a daily basis. And believe me, running the service cannot be achieved by yourself. You need to have collaboration from all your technologists to make this happen. This is something that you learn from experience (hopefully not the hard way) and I was really surprised that it wasn’t mentioned at all in the article. Thanks so much for listening to my gripe. I have provided a copy of the original article if you want to read it here (CLICK ME).

Additionally, if you found any of my comments helpful or constructive, I have a  FREE course you can check out which specifically deals with strengthening the bond between technologists and radiology staff. I call it the CT SuperTech Starter Course and it will give you a simple 2-Step system for becoming one of the most desirable technologists to work with in your institution.

Here's a fraction of what you'll learn in the CT SuperTech Starter Course:

  • How to differentiate yourself from all the other techs in your department
  • How to elevate your status and deliver exceptional patient care at the same time
  • How to pick up on other people’s mistakes and avoid harming a patient

Why not give it a look?  After all, it’s free!  What have you got to lose?  Go to www.CTSuperTech.com 

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