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I enjoy perusing the web and reading blog posts and articles that catch my eye.
Some of the great posts I have come across I share with my readers through my Grand Rounds series.
Sometimes a particular passage in an article is thought provoking and I thought I could highlight/elaborate on it in a dedicated post.
The inspiration for this post came from an article in MDLinx titled, “Why Aren’t Physicians Ready To Retire?”
One section was of particular interest:
Who has the greatest aversion to retirement?
Surgical specialty physicians (surgeons and anesthesiologists) were the least ready to retire. When asked whether they were excited about full retirement, only 53% agreed compared with 58% of internists, 61% of obstetricians/gynecologists, 62% psychiatrists, 63% pediatricians, and 78% of radiologists/pathologists. Surgeons also reported the highest satisfaction with their careers—88% were satisfied or completely satisfied.
As you can see radiologists and pathologists happen to be two specialties that are the most excited about full retirement.
Could it be a coincidence that physicians in these two specialties just happen to be associated with having the least patient contact, or none at all, compared to their peers?
As a radiologist it often can seem like I am detached from true patient care.
The majority of the times the images are ordered, obtained, and sent to me without my prior knowledge.
I view said images in a darkened office room looking at high resolution monitors.
I pick up the voice recognition dictation system, press a few buttons, say a few things, and voila the report is done and I move on to the next case.
On rare occasion I will get a clinician calling to discuss a finding or inquiring what modality would be best for follow up.
Even rarer do I get a call giving me feedback of what a particular finding turned out to be in actuality.
Those calls are my favorite and certainly would be the highlight of the day when they do occur.
Probably my most satisfying experience was when a surgeon knocked on my door, brought an older gentleman in with him and then introduced me to that man and said, “I just wanted you to meet the doc who saved your life.”
It turns out that I had caused a full cardiac workup on this patient when I had casually mentioned in my report and impression that, in the few slices I had of the heart on a routine Abdomen CT, I had noticed some heavy calcification in the coronary arteries.
I went back to look at that study in detail.
Those potential lethal calcifications were indeed present only on the first two images of the included lung bases.
The subsequent cardiac workup revealed that this patient had a true “widow-maker” high grade blockage in the left anterior descending coronary artery.
The patient was asymptomatic and had been originally scheduled to undergo an elective surgery where, as the surgeon put it, there was a great potential to have a life threatening cardiac event.
This surgery was postponed until the cardiac issues could be fixed.
These sort of moments can indeed inspire me to continue the practice of medicine, but sadly, as mentioned before, they are quite rare.
I therefore do not doubt the veracity of the above passage as I am sure my fellow radiologists and pathology colleagues can concur that the desire for full retirement is higher as this positive feedback loop is much lower when compared to those in the “front-line” medical specialties.
For those who have a medical practice with a similar “hands-off” approach in regards to direct patient contact, do you like-wise feel that there is less of a pull for you to remain in medicine because of it?
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