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I've heard the talk about how radiology is no longer a lifestyle specialty, in that work hours are increasing and compensation decreasing. Is it still true that they can take several months vacation (5-6 months per year) or work part time? Is this relatively easy to do, or is it looked down upon? What are the typical work hours each day for a radiologist, and how often do they work evenings/weekends?

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I've heard the talk about how radiology is no longer a lifestyle specialty, in that work hours are increasing and compensation decreasing. Is it still true that they can take several months vacation (5-6 months per year) or work part time? Is this relatively easy to do, or is it looked down upon? What are the typical work hours each day for a radiologist, and how often do they work evenings/weekends?

 

several months? That sounds like a logistic nightmare to arrange for the centre. 

 

The number of vacation weeks varies - at our academic centre it is 12 weeks a year - keeping in mind that those 12 weeks also must serve as professional development time (conferences as well), and any extra research time. I have heard some people in the community are up to 16 weeks (although they work harder the rest of the time). 

 

It seems odd to me that some one would routinely be doing 5 months off a year. You can arrange locums that would have say gaps between them but that would involve never settling down anywhere. oh the daily work day is typically 8-5:00-5:30 here, in the community is similar but varies by site. 

 

Part time does exist in radiology but it is also pretty rare to start off with it. It is more the sort of thing you do later on. We do have many staff that work a bit less then the max full time though (say 80%). With call coverage (which is the big problem now) having part time people is hard to organize - it costs a flat rate in order to have  someone for a lot of things and part time people cost more therefore per unit time. 

 

At our centre the rads will work every 6-8 weekends for the entire weekend (we need 5 rads every weekend - two for plain films, two for actual CT etc at two sites, and one neuro rad). There is also a holiday schedule as someone has to cover those as well. In the community you can be on call a lot more often - and that varys by site quite a bit. The issue with call is there is no post call day either ha, so if you have a rough night you are going to have a rough day (this is one argument people have made for our long call shifts in medicine - in many places that is actually a staff situation as well). Some of our smaller community places with 5-6 to rads make the math simpler ha - you are only call every 5-6 weekends and on call every 5th or 6th week day. Call workload varies by site - some places are as bad as our hospital is, other places are much lighter - I would say the latter is more the norm)

 

Now you can get lower paying clinic work that is more 8-5 no call etc but again lower pay, and really you are only using a subset of your skills. 

 

So I do tell people that rads is not a lifestyle specialty anymore. You cannot do anything anymore without imaging, and that means we are in high demand. Emerg used to manage their own plain films at night but now it is CT land. We have new policies for TIA, MI, trauma..... that all means contrast enhanced imaging is required and standard of care, and that means prompt reading. Our daily work load has also jumped through the roof compared to the way it used to be. We cannot complain too much but out fees have be targeted and slashed over the past 10 years - we are convenient target ha for the government so lower pay and more work is the norm. In the long run we will likely have to go 24 hours a day shift work style which is pretty much anti-lifestyle at any large trauma centre. 

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8 - 5 or 5:30 sounds pretty short for an average workday, unless this is just meant to refer to the hours that someone has to be available and covering in the department (outside of call hours). 

Especially with teaching, clinical rounds, meetings etc., I'd be surprised if there wasn't some spill of work into evenings/weekends (which may be done outside of the hospital and not as easily visible/tracked).

The other possibility is that the department is very well staffed, allowing prep time for these activities to occur during regular working hours.

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8 - 5 or 5:30 sounds pretty short for an average workday, unless this is just meant to refer to the hours that someone has to be available and covering in the department (outside of call hours). 

Especially with teaching, clinical rounds, meetings etc., I'd be surprised if there wasn't some spill of work into evenings/weekends (which may be done outside of the hospital and not as easily visible/tracked).

The other possibility is that the department is very well staffed, allowing prep time for these activities to occur during regular working hours.

 

Oh I mean just direct work day expected to be in front of the machine reading etc time at a well staff academic centre no less. Not counting admin, research, teaching prep, conference prep, CME activities, department management....... Only about 1/3 of radiologists are at such a centre though. 

 

I think one of the best things people in medicine can do is to realistically convey what the job actually is. This idea that doctors are for the most part doing anything close to 40 hours a week at regular times is just not what is going on. The CMA website states that even the average number of hours for radiology is 47 hours - and includes all the part time people etc etc. 

 

At our centre there is evening work - but only one rad does that from 3-11 for a week at a time a few times a year. 

 

Community rads is variable but can be a pure marathon work load - particularly for new grads trying to get faster and also make partner where they are at. 

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What about Interventional Radiology?

 

at our academic centre IR is probably one of the worst branches in terms of lifestyle, ha. You have actual call and those call shifts may actually involve procedures that take hours and require you to come into the hospital to do them (no logging on to a computer, answering a question and going back to bed). Sometimes the following day can be quite the drag (no post call days, ha).

 

At an academic centre there are still relatively few IR staff - so call can be more intense as someone has to be on call at all times. It isn't like ER call where in theory any radiologist can do it. 

 

Basically IR is a surgical field, and has a surgical lifestyle. 

 

Now I don't know much about how it is like in the community though - I suspect it may be location specific. Still if you are the only one doing IR at a centre, and someone gets a deadly bleed that requires IR to stop it that doesn't sound like a recipe for getting a lot of sleep :) 

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They're the only radiologists who are already there when I come into CT around 0730.. and are still there when I leave close to 7... the advantage of diagnostic work is that I can finish up the remainder in the evening at home, i.e. protocol requisitions, sign off reports, and compose work-related emails. We are short-staffed though.

 

At all centres, academic or not, hospital or clinic, there will be work related to running a department, ranging from protocols/QA/accreditation to building new services/troubleshooting/adapting to changing needs... all this is outside of the clinical workday and is something that would be part of any medical practice unless someone is functioning on an employee/hourly basis.

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They're the only radiologists who are already there when I come into CT around 0730.. and are still there when I leave close to 7... the advantage of diagnostic work is that I can finish up in the evening at home, i.e. protocol requisitions, sign off reports, and compose work-related emails. We are short staffed though.

 

At all centres, academic or not, hospital or clinic, there will be work related to running a department, ranging from protocols/QA/accreditation to building new services/troubleshooting/adapting to changing needs... all this is outside of the clinical workday and is something that would be part of any medical practice unless someone is functioning on an employee/hourly basis.

 

It is those hours that I find people are often lacking in their "extreme income" models that you see pop up, i.e. so many patients per hour for 8-10 hours a day.......

 

All of the CMA profiles on what actual doctors are doing have a very big part of the work load as some form of non income generating admin style work. 

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Wow thanks for the insight! With the added hours does that increase the potential income for IR?

 

No.

 

(ha)

 

actually IR is one of the worst paid branches of radiology. The money (for now at least) in radiology is in cross sectional imaging. IR is procedure work and somewhat surprisingly not that well paid for each procedure. 

 

The catch is hospitals need IR so if you are an IR doc you probably can get a job, and thus gain access to the other imaging. You aren't IR usually 5 days a week. 

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Most IR would be part of a group practice providing services to a hospital. so I wouldn't expect their income to be based on what they personally bill. 

 

true - although some community places still have IR and not all of them are group. In my opinion with the call they do, the headaches involved with it and stress etc they should make a lot more for what they do than they do. 

 

As much I think a unit of radiology work should equal the same amount of pay, I know that if that was done it simply would mean that they would cut down to the common denominator, ha. 

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Within any group of people practicing within a single department, there will need to be some mechanism for working towards an equitable distribution of work and income, else you would see the same types of discussion between subspecialties as you currently see between different fields of medicine...

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