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Is ‘Raking In The Dough With Radiology’ Over?

April 2, 2013
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Said last week’s New York Times headline: “Job Prospects Are Dimming for Radiology Trainees.”


Here’s the picture the article paints:

Recent radiology graduates with huge medical school debts are having trouble finding work, let alone the $400,000-and-up dream jobs that beckoned as they signed on for five to seven years of relatively low-paid labor as trainees. On Internet forums, younger radiology residents agonize about whether it is too late to switch tracks.

Double ouch.

The Times focuses on St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, which sent termination notices to a dozen radiology residents. The hospital plans to replace its radiologists with a teleradiology company, which also means the end of the residency program. One of the residents set adrift, Luke Gerges, DO, said he has been out of medical school for four years and owes $300,000. His assessment:

Those days of raking in the dough with radiology are gone.

The story also quotes Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, chair of the American College of Radiology board, who seems to agree. Dr. Ellenbogen noted a dozen cuts in radiology reimbursement by Medicare since 2006 and said, “We were somewhat victims of our success.” The 1980s boom in advanced imaging modalities such as MRI and CT unsustainably boosted radiologists’ compensation, he said:

That led to a sense of entitlement in some people’s minds. And that led to this development of offshore remote reading of cases.

Sighing about not being able to afford a Porsche right out of medical school is one thing (and, yes, the article quotes one radiology resident as doing just that), but the Times also highlights the difficulty that some radiologists encounter in finding residencies—or, in the St. Barnabas case, keeping them. McClaren Macomb hospital in Mount Clemens, Michigan, just north of Detroit, did offer several of the St. Barnabas residents a place in its “unfunded program.” That requires participants to find donors to pay $65,000 per year apiece, of which the residents keep $42,000 in salary and $2,000 in expenses.

Eli Shapiro, DO, the program’s director, told Dr. Gerges in an e-mail:

Obviously it would be your last choice, but if there are no open funded positions and you can scrounge up the funds, keep it in mind.

Related seminar: UCSF Practical Body Imaging (just recorded; will be released April 16)


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