Recent studies document that between 50 to 55 % of US diagnostic radiologists and trainees admit to symptoms of professional burnout. Increasing numbers of diagnostic radiologists are seeking career coaching services, exploring new non-clinical careers, and leaving practice situations or residency programs. The 2015 Radiology residency matching program saw 15% of residency slots go unfilled, and a significant percent of those filled were with foreign medical graduates. It is obvious that we are facing a crisis of significant proportions, a crisis of dissatisfaction and burnout which threatens the viability of our specialty.
There are no simple or quick solutions to these problems. My recommendations for action, spelled out in detail in this Op-Ed feature, suggest the need for a broad culture change within the specialty to fully address the issues. That culture change initiative is referred to as Radiologist-centered Imaging.
The culture change encompasses many dimensions. There is a need for nationwide initiatives supported by radiology professional organizations, practice groups, and academic centers to study and institute policies to improve the working conditions of radiologists, improve radiologists attention to health and wellness, provide career management and leadership support, and enable radiologists to better support and treat each other as fellow physicians and human beings.
We should pursue these solutions toward a culture shift not only for the purpose of reducing radiologist burnout, but also because reducing physician stress and burnout reduces medical errors, enhances physician retention, and improves physician and patient satisfaction. If we can pool the rich human resources within our discipline, work diligently hand in hand towards solutions, and treat each other with respect and mutual concern, we can initiate a true culture shift within radiology. At the same time, we will build a healthier, more resilient and cohesive specialty for ourselves and our future trainees that will survive the manifold trials of these turbulent times.