The busy have no time for tears.”
Byron was a busy dude. Check out his life history sometime. Almost a modern-day litany of excesses and vices, but he could crank out some literature. As it turns out, Lord, the “busy” have no time for workday breaks, either.
The “modern” radiology department has lots of the following: patients, exam rooms, equipment, fiber optic cable, administrators, patient resources, chairs in waiting rooms, water coolers, IV sets, contrast media, clipboards, computer monitors, heavy lead doors, US gel … . Need I continue?
What are we short on? Hmmm … maybe radiologists?
There is a job crunch in our field. Let me be more specific: There are fewer people hiring into their expanding volume of studies and diminishing reimbursements.
So, faced with this dilemma, it seems that as a specialty we have decided to pile more work on ourselves. Work longer hours, “expand coverage” and pinch and grab RVUs.
This is an odd problem.
Those who were swearing 10 years ago that we were headed to infinite volumes at zero reimbursement may have been a little smarter than we all thought they were, eh? It may not be entirely correct to say we are a victim of our own success, but there is some truth to that.
PACS made us more efficient (they say). Voice transcription made us more efficient (they say). And everyone knows that if you read a pelvis and an abdominal CT, you do half as much work reading one or the other than if you read either one alone. Huh? Well, someone said that.
It is frustrating to work hard and struggle to stay even, but there are breaking points. I think we’re there. All you folks working till 85 aren’t helping, either. Just sayin’.
So, I’m calling for some routine work breaks. Mid-morning, definitely at lunch time, and a mid-afternoon break. Mid-evening break for you evening shift folks, and a late-night break for the night rangers.
“Sir (Ma’am), just step away from the monitor.” Now, run along and see nature. Something. Anything. We need more breaks. What is this, a sweat shop?
Wait, don’t answer that.
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Wet Read: How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?. Appl Radiol.
Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.