No radiologist is an island. Finding happiness as a veterinary radiologist relies on working with others. No radiologist is an island. Fail to follow this important rule and you will be on the road to burnout in no time.
I know some radiologists fancy themselves to be among the world's greatest thinkers, poets, and philosophers such as Sir Issac Newton (who was solo AND celibate,), Nietche, Kant, Descartes, and Spinoza, and think they can hide in the back of the hospital or at home in their underwear and be self-sufficient. Unfortunately, you are neither one of the worlds greatest thinkers nor can you be successful or find lasting happiness in your chosen profession without the support of your peers and your support staff.
It does not matter if you are working at a veterinary hospital, at a university, or if you will be starting your own business. If you are ever to find happiness as a veterinary radiologist you will need to rely on the help of others.
It is not clear why many radiologists are reluctant to employ the services of a support staff. Is it because they are socially inept? Some would point at the fact that radiologists sit in a dark room all day long as evidence of our social ineptitude. Although social awkwardness goes with the territory, I do not believe this is the reason.Personally, I believe the cause is twofold. First, many radiologists think the world of themselves and do not realize that being a good radiologist does not mean they are a good…well…anything else for that matter. Your skills are limited to radiology. Leave it at that. You are not a lawyer. You are not a graphics designer. Second, radiologists, like many veterinarians, are cheap. Saving a few bucks having a lawyer look at an employment agreement, or trying to do your own taxes, thinking you can twiddle around with your client's computer network, or losing a big client because you did not want to pay a radiologist to assist you so your turnaround time was unacceptable are all stupid mistakes that radiologists do every day. Stop being cheap. Invest in yourself and your business. Your investment will pay huge dividends.
Step 3 in finding happiness as a veterinary radiologist is to build a rock solid support team.
Team radiology support: Gone are the days of the solo radiologist. The internet put an end to any possibility that you can work as a solo radiologist. Turnaround times for radiology reports are now 2-3 hours 24-7. TOPS. Fail to make that deadline and you are out of business. It is impossible You work in a group or you are out of business. If you think you can….
- Be on the road all day long and then come back and to read cases, you will watch your teleradiology caseload evaporate. Nobody is waiting for you to come home to read those cases any longer
- Work at a referral hospital and expect the vets to wait for you to come in to read the cases in the AM, your production will suffer. Nobody is waiting for films to be read in the AM any longer. They will farm those films out overnight when you are not looking. You need to offer your hospital 24-7 coverage or they will look elsewhere.
- Work at a referral hospital and expect the vets to wait until Monday to have the weekend cases read you are mistaken. Again, you need to offer 24-7 service to remain relevant.
- Have a 24 hour turnaround time you are a nutter. 2-3 hours is the standard turnaround time on images these days.
- Not offer your clients STAT interpretations. Wrong again. You will find that they will start sending their STAT cases out .
You get the point. Too many times, I see radiologists fighting with other radiologists living in the same city or radiologists at referral hospitals giving the administration 22 reasons why they should not hire another radiologist. Sole = death. When it comes to radiologists 1 + 1 makes 4.
Build a team of radiologists who will support you after hours, when you are busy, when you are sick, and when your eyes are bugging out of your head and you just cannot read another case1. Radiology is 24-7. Without a good support crew you will burn yourself out faster than Bubba’s underwear after a chili-eating contest.
Team computer support: Your life will be spent on a computer. You cannot afford to be down for a day. If you want to find happiness you need to stop playing computer guy and get an expert. Hire someone to set up your home network and make sure that everything you have is backed up. Have someone you can call at the drop of a hat to get things back up and running again. Most of us can actually perform this function. It is not all that difficult. The problem is that when your computer blows up, you will likely not have the time or wherewithal to hassle with getting back up and running. Your time would be better spent working on your alternate computer (yes you will ALWAYS have a fully functioning backup) to keep your business going and pay for the computer person to work on your primary computer. Hint: a computer guy is not your brother's, wife's, kid who likes to play World of Warcraft in their spare time. You need a professional and a professional service is available 24-7 to log into your computer. You do not have the time to waste waiting for them.
While we are on the topic – not only should you not be monkeying around with your home computer, you should ban yourself from even thinking about working on your clients computer network or trying to troubleshoot image sending issues or network issues on their side. At DVMinsight, we work with several thousand veterinary hospitals and have seen it all. You cannot imagine the problems that you will run into. Do not even attempt to play IT person to your clients. You will fail and then they will resent you. You will look stupid and then they will send their cases to someone who knows what they are doing. We see it every day.
Team Legal: EVERY yes EVERY radiologist MUST have at least one lawyer they work with2. Do not blow this off. You are a radiologist and you should not be dabbling in law – ever. At a minimum, will need a lawyer to look over all of your employment agreements. If you sign an employment agreement without the advice of a trusted lawyer you are setting yourself up for a disaster.
All lawyers are not created equal. You need a lawyer that will 1) help you determine the legality of your contracts as well as 2) advise you on your exposure to risks associated with the agreement. AGAIN – your lawyer should not just look at the employment agreements and say “hmmm, seems pretty tight to me.” You need someone who will be advising you on whether or not it is in your best interests to sign the document. This advisory role is a role where many lawyers fall short. We have seen too many radiologists employ lawyers only to find that the lawyer, technically did their job, but did not advise the radiologist appropriately.
Team Accounting: Please flush that turbo tax CD down the toilet. It is time to grow up. You are a professional. You will have deductions. You need expert tax advice. You have neither the time or expertise to monkey around with your taxes.
Your accountant is more than someone you send your receipts to every year. You should be meeting with your accountant at least once a year so they can look at your bigger picture and advise you appropriately. A good accountant is worth their weight in gold. If they are doing their job properly, they will likely save you more than you pay them each year.
Team Graphics Design/Web Design: You went to vet school. You were premed. You can’t draw and you are not creative. If you were, you would not be sitting in a dark room each day.
Now stop playing artist and build your brand and website like you mean it. I know you can piddle around with wordpress and make your own website. Do it ant it will look like crap. In the time it takes you to make that kluged website and make you look like a hack, you could have read a few dozen films and paid someone to do it properly and make you look like a superstar. Please do not hire the cheapest web designer out there. There are loads of people who CAN make a website. Very few, however, can do it well.
You will also need a logo3. Work with someone who knows what they are doing. Taking that awful ACVR stamp and picking a font in MSWORD is a recipe for disaster. At a minimum go to www.99designs.com and aid in the destruction of the graphics arts community in the USA.
Team Financial Planner: If you do things right you will have boku bucks coming in and putting that money to work is essential. As you will see in Step 4 of this series, determining your “number” will be essential to finding happiness as a veterinary radiologist. Your financial planner will help you determine that number, help you develop a budget, and probably scare the pants off of you when you learn how much money you will need to save each year to make it safely to retirement. You are getting started with your live at 33. You need to make up for lost time. Find a financial planner you like and stick with them.
Team Right Hand Manwoman: Every radiologist needs someone to handle their day to day stuff. Maybe this is your spouse. Whomever it is, you are a professional and it is time to stop wasting your time entering bills into quickbooks, running to the post office to mail films, chasing down vets who do not pay their bills, keeping up with your licences, etc. You need a right hand person to take care of the stuff you just cannot get to each day. This does not need to be a full time person. Maybe just a bookkeeper who comes once a week. Once you have someone – delegate till your eyes bleed. You need to be reading cases, building your business, paying attention to your family, building a family if you do not have one, and cultivating a hobby or two. Entering checks in quickbooks is a waste of your time. You are a professional – act like one. Delegate till it hurts.
Bottom line: Step 4 in finding happiness as a veterinary radiologist is to build a rock solid support team. You are a radiologist. Do your job and leave the rest for the experts. Building your support team will pay financial dividends. Your team will make you more productive. Building your support team will pay other dividends as your team will ultimately keep your head screwed on straight, prevent burnout, and help you find long term happiness as a veterinary radiologist.
1. Fortunately, it is very easy to build a support group of radiologists. This is one of the functions of the DVMinsight NETWORK. It is our experience that when radiologists start to work together and tap into the DVMinsight network, their business grows exponentially and they become happier.
2. Unfortunately, lawsuits are becoming increasingly common in veterinary medicine. In the last few years, there have been three radiologist on radiologist lawsuits and several referral hospital vs. specialist lawsuits.
3. Hint: Your business name does not have to have the word radiologist or imaging in it. Animimaging, Imaging Specialist for Animals, Radspecialist, Animal Rad. Yuk. Boring. Blah. Don’t do it.