How did you first get into medicine?
Apart from when I was in junior school, when I briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a vet, I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a doctor. It seemed like the ideal career, combining academic challenge and professional rewards with 'doing something good for others'.
Admittedly I knew more about medicine than any other potential career as my mother was a GP. Perhaps I spent less time than I should have considering other avenues. However, I can't say I ever regretted my choice to become a doctor.
What inspired you to pursue radiology as a specialty? What did you most enjoy about it?
Having decided to go into medicine rather than surgery, during my SHO rotation I realised that one of the most rewarding parts of the job for me was the detective work involved in diagnosing what was wrong with the patient. Becoming a radiologist allowed me to make those diagnoses, help guide the clinicians with difficult diagnostic dilemmas and occasionally make a completely unexpected finding which changed the management dramatically.
Personally, I enjoyed being a generalist rather than a specialist. There's a certain challenge to being able to turn your mind to any aspect of medicine. As a general radiologist with an interest in paediatrics, I could be doing abdominal ultrasounds on premature babies in the morning and CT scans for 90-year old patients in the afternoon.
Radiology has always adopted a multidisciplinary team approach. We're part of a team of radiographers, ultrasonographers, radiography assistants and IT technicians. Working as part of that team of people is a wonderful experience.
How does radiology differ from other medical settings?
I think the most obvious difference is that radiologists often deal with images of the patient, rather than the patient themselves.
Before I started radiology my biggest worry was that I would no longer speak to any patients. However, while you may no longer be the responsible clinician for the patient, there are lots of opportunities to make a difference to patient management, and most radiology specialties do have opportunities to interact with patients. Although it may seem that radiologists spend all their time looking at computers, many other specialties also have ultrasound lists or interventional procedures.
Radiology depends heavily on technology, and this is changing and developing at phenomenal speed
What additional skills have you learned as a result?
I hope that most junior doctors nowadays have plenty of opportunity to learn a little about radiology during their training but of course, there is a full five-year training programme once you decide to become a radiologist.
Radiology depends heavily on technology, and this is changing and developing at phenomenal speed. There is plenty to interest those who like to learn new techniques.
One of the most useful skills in any specialty is communication, and radiology is no different. Your interpretation of imaging depends on the information you receive from the referrer, and their ability to act on your findings relies on how good your explanation is.
What advice would you give to a student considering a career in radiology?
I would highly recommend radiology as a career. It may not be the specialty that first jumps to mind when you start medical school, but between the different subspecialties and the diverse imaging techniques, there is sure to be a role in radiology that suits you.
The demand for radiological investigation seems to be ever increasing, so it would be reasonable to suggest the demand for radiologists will increase as well.