Saturday, November 9, 2013

Red Badge of Courage

I'm a radiology resident. Fascinating field, but not for me. I'm currently making a career switch but my program director will employ me until June 30th, 2014 so I can still take bread home to Beth and bacon home to Anna. My co-workers have been congenial with the switch. Radiology residency is probably the most academic medicine specialty. It requires hours of reading outside work and hours of teaching from our professor physicians, while we are on the job. Though they know I'm leaving, these professors/attendings have continued to educate me with no strings attached. And my peers have treated me more than fair as a turncoat.

What I want to put out there is how hard the second-year radiology resident works. In fact, from my observations in medicine and radiology I've seen no other specialty with a more difficulty call load. You have to simultaneously manage a pager, exam reads from an ever-expanding exam list, attending read-outs (when you review your findings with a more experiences physician), questions from any service who walks in the door, patient consents, exam protocol questions from techs, a full bladder, an empty stomach, and sometimes a headache. And it's this juggle for 12 straight hours (day or night). You could be sitting next to a second-year, as I am now, and have literally only seconds to say "hello," in the space of three hours.

I happened to get beyond "hello" and even asked my senior if he was going to go out tonight or hit the hay.

"I always go out," he said, before answering the phone.

I left the conversation at that...

But I'm impressed. I'm walking away from the rigors of second-year call to go back and spend more time with patients. I won't have the nefarious call duties of the second-year radiology resident. I won't have experiences to reinforce my intestinal fortitude. I won't have my radiology red badge of courage.

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