Tools of the Trade
As medicine shifts, groups are hiring radiologists who can not only interpret images appropriately but also serve as practice builders.
In many professions, it is not unusual for people to change employers often. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was just 4.6.1 That means that people tend to change employers nearly as often as the nation holds a presidential election. But radiology is different.
Many radiologists stay with a practice or academic department for at least 10 to 15 years. With a commitment longer than some marriages, hiring the right radiologists is perhaps the single most important thing an organization can do to achieve its long-term strategic goals.
“Sometimes practices make a proverbial shoot-from-the-hip decision and say, ‘If one person leaves, we need to automatically get another person,’ without doing a critical analysis of what their needs and resources are.” — Samir B. Patel, MD
Whether a private practice or an academic department, groups must begin by taking a decisive look at their hiring needs. “Sometimes practices make a proverbial shoot-from-the-hip decision and say, ‘If one person leaves, we need to automatically get another person,’ without doing a critical analysis of what their needs and resources are,” says Samir B. Patel, MD, director of the value management program at Radiology, Inc., in central Indiana. “It’s important to take a critical look at the supply-and-demand needs and use that to make the decision about whether hiring or replacing a radiologist is necessary.”
Once an organization decides to proceed with hiring, it must determine exactly what it wants in a new radiologist. Particularly as medicine shifts to a value-based model, groups are looking for radiologists who can not only interpret images appropriately but also increase quality by engaging with referring physicians, patients, and others in the health care system. “Hiring a radiologist who has excellent credentials, so you can put them in a dark room to read images and never talk to anyone — that’s a thing of the past,” says Jonathan Breslau, MD, FACR, chief radiologist at Sutter Imaging, Sutter Medical Group. “You have to bring in people who have excellent training but who are also Imaging 3.0™ practice builders, who can strengthen relationships with all parts of the health care enterprise and show referring physicians how imaging can help them improve patient care.”
When organizations ponder their needs, they may also consider seeking certain types of candidates, such as those with specific skill sets, those just out of training, or those who can add to the diversity within their group. “If we only surround ourselves with people who think exactly the same as us, we’re going to miss things and we’re going to have blind spots,” explains Michael P. Recht, MD, Louis Marx Professor of Radiology and chair of the department of radiology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Diversity is something we strive for and is crucial if you’re going to be a successful organization.