Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Wow. Already 6 weeks into being a radiology resident and my head is still spinning. I knew I'd have to start over again, but when you suddenly realize how much you don't know, it's incredibly humbling (and frustrating when you are actually suppose to be a productive physician and other physicians ask for your advice). Learning pretty much every medical and surgical condition about every part of the body is suppose to be hard. That's why radiology takes 4 years. I was prepared for that. What didn't hit me until now was how hard it is to know where to begin when you don't know anything. It translates to stumbling through studies with the attending correcting essentially everything you say, then going home and highlighting everything you reading. The first few weeks were actually pretty terrible. But, like everything, you start to pick things up without even knowing it. I've already had one rotation and by the end of it, it seemed much more manageable (I still don't know much, though).

Am I glad I chose it? Yes, but I could see how lots of people would hate being a radiologist. Unlike internal medicine, you really don't have much of a downtime. I thought I'd be taking coffee breaks all the time, but the studies don't stop coming. You sit (or have the option to stand) in one place for a long time looking at the same few computer screens. You rarely actually see or talk to patients. I'm fine with all those (though I would appreciate more breaks). What makes up for it, though, is that it you really become an expert. Even after 6 weeks, I have physicians with years of experience calling me for advice, which, incredibly, I can actually provide for them. Learning to pick up pathology (and normal variants) on imaging is actually fun (even though it is incredibly overwhelming). Once you see something, it sticks (way easier than memorizing books).

I've heard it gets less overwhelming after the first year. That means 10 1/2 more months of feeling lost (but I have a feeling it might be longer).