Editorial: Resolutions

I’m the last person who should be encouraging people to make and follow New Year’s resolutions. I don’t bother to make them myself, since I usually abandon them within about three days—my diet and exercise plans die off the quickest.

Still, I decided to take a look at what some of us do in our jobs that could use a little touching up for the betterment of ourselves and those we work with. I figure that if someone actually makes—and sticks to—just one of these resolutions, then it’s been worth the digital space I’m using up. I could certainly try some of these myself.

That said, here, in no particular order, are:

Dr. Stu’s Resolutions for Radiologists 2015

1. Take time to learn the names of the technologists you work with and get to know something about them. Rather than just levying criticism when they make mistakes, teach them how to do the job better.

2. The same goes for my fellow academic radiologists: Learn the names of your residents and a little about their lives. I realize this can be hard to do sometimes, especially in large programs with many residents of foreign heritage. I sometimes carry a sheet of headshots with names prepared each year by the department and sneak a peek occasionally. Rest assured: You will probably come to remember the names of the very good and very bad ones without much effort.

3. Rather than harping on how problems are not being addressed, ask your leader, boss or chairman what you can do to help him or her to improve the department.

4. Take an hour off from watching TV at night and instead read an article or two from your favorite journal. There must be at least one or two worth your attention (such as this one?).

5. Approach the person you least like in your group and invite him or her to lunch. No “doctoring” of his or her meal allowed. Try to keep the conversation casual and not about work. Yes, it might induce some indigestion to get through the meal, but it could also serve as a step toward building a better relationship—and who wouldn’t want that?

6. You know those clinicians who constantly ask for too many or utterly ridiculous imaging studies? Cut them some slack. What they do every day is no piece of cake, either; you are probably a radiologist now in part to avoid doing their jobs. You can try to steer them in the right direction as you see it, but don’t waste too much effort—in my place, at least, they dig their heels in deeper when you protest their requests.

7. Don’t complain too much about your salary. You are very well off compared to the vast majority of the population; a bit more money will neither change your life nor make you any happier. (Note: This resolution does not apply if you are indeed being robbed blind.)

8. Try to resurrect a methodical way to review cases—like the one you probably developed in training. In the interest of saving time, we tend to interpret studies in one shot, depending on our experience and expertise to make all the findings virtually instantly. While that works most of the time (fortunately), it pales in comparison to an organized review. The fact that many of us are pressured into this approach should be a loud warning to risk managers.

9. Try reading while standing up for an hour a day. It burns calories and strengthens your bones. And as an added bonus, it lets you run away faster from that surgeon you hate.

10. Find a problem in your department to fix, and keep at it until it’s fixed. It is possible; one of my section colleagues has proven it—although admittedly she is perhaps not so well liked by the admins as a result. But we all think she’s great.

I hope you find these ideas worthwhile and may even consider trying a couple. My only suggestion—perhaps my final recommended resolution—is to follow through on what you resolve. It may be tough, but it’s definitely character building.

Happy New Year!

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