Radiology First Year Residents

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TIPS FOR FIRST YEAR Radiology Residency

First year Radiology Residency are often confused about what to expect in Radiology residency. The confusion and apprehension is understandable as all of us have gone through this phase. Here we provide few tips on how to approach radiology residency and excel as a radiologist:

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  1. The Chill Life? Most of us develop a rough idea of how radiology residency would be. Some of us even have the notion that radiology is a very relaxed branch. However, in the recent times, we have seen few residents being surprised at the workload in some departments. Radiology departments in some hospitals even run round-the-clock and have hectic night duties. Hence, we suggest all residents to have an open mind regarding this before joining their respective colleges.
  2. 50 shades of grey: Yes, almost everything is black and white initially. But there is ample time in residency to understand basic radiology if you manage your time and resources well. ‘Patience you must have, my young padawan’! Eventually you shall learn the different shades of grey. Early on, focus on focusing!
  3. Rad-path: Avoid mixing radiology with pathology and jump to a conclusion. There are always differentials to every case. Avoid giving the rarest of rare diagnosis without consulting your seniors. Remember, there is reason why things are called rare! Common men have common ailments. Rule them out first!
  4. Absorb: Seniors and consultants are experience holders. Its right said that “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” So, from day 1 of residency, make it a habit to learn something every day. Keep your eyes and ears open when seniors and consultants explain you a case.
  5. History: Most first year Radiology Residency have a notion that patient interaction is not required in radiology. A big no! In reality, patient history forms the basis of day-to-day case reporting. A thorough history shall often point you in the right direction even before scanning. Often a patient might even tell you his diagnosis or have his old reports.
  6. Books are best friends: Radiology has an enormous collection of books. So, Invest accordingly. Begin by reading books on the basics of chest x-rays, ultrasound probe focusing and basic special investigations. Explore the list of recommended books to be used for these topics on our Radiology Books section.
  7. Imaging anatomy & Normal anatomical variants: Radiology is nothing without Anatomy and anatomical variants. Clinicians expect you to be precise while describing the exact location of any lesion. Explore the world of anatomy and keep revisiting! Interested in learning the commonly encountered normal anatomical variants? Try our collection of Anatomical Variants. Also, check out our labelled radiological anatomy images.
  8. Medicolegal aspects: In some colleges, medicolegal reporting of radiographs and CT form an important part of the daily routine. Some colleges even make residents deal with these medicolegal cases. Bummer! Do not neglect this work. “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome!”
  9. Observe & learn: Observe your technicians and seniors. Understand protocols of cross-sectional imaging studies. We understand that the reporting room is more attractive but understanding protocols is necessary too. Better to do this in your first year of residency. Don’t just see, Observe!
  10. Department etiquette: Respect your seniors and department staff. Most often we learn more from them rather than books. Most radiographers shall willingly teach you special investigations and x-ray positioning if you politely request them.
  11. Too many modalities?: Some first-year residents are often overenthusiastic to learn multiple modalities all at once. Don’t try to rush out for all modalities at one time. You will be unable to understand the hierarchy and connect the dots together if give skip the basics! Focus on learning radiographs, ultrasonography and special investigations early on. CT and MRI exposure shall come later. Learn one modality - one investigation - one procedure at a time. Slow and steady!
  12. Follow up: Develop a habit of following up the patient. Radiologists can easily get disconnected from other specialties because they might not take active part in the patient management. But avoid that mistake. Follow up the patient for the final clinical/histopathological diagnosis. Not everything appears as in the books. You shall be amazed with the final diagnosis almost every other day!
  13. Radiation safety: Radiation and safety goes hand in hand! You are not only supposed to learn it but follow it for yourself and your patients and colleagues too. Always wear your safety devices before entering unsafe zones. Wear your TLD badge according to protocol. Learn correct positioning and avoid exposing your patients to radiation multiple times.
  14. Interventional radiology: It’s a boon if you have free hand for interventions in your department. Assist your seniors sincerely and understand the elementary steps. Guided procedures are fancy things! Why not impress everyone!
  15. Learn online: Books should not be your only mode of learning. Various online resources and videos often make it easier to graph seemingly difficult topics. The following YouTube channels are a good way to learn basics:
  16. Work hard, Party harder: Lastly, do not forget to enjoy yourself. Residency can be a highly demanding phase of your life. Why not make this phase enjoyable? Make friends, get a hobby, play a musical instrument, watch movies or join a gym!

    In the words of Roy T. Bennett (The Light in the Heart):

    • Don't just learn, experience.
    • Don't just read, absorb.
    • Don’t just dream, do.
Authors : Dr Sajal Agarwal MBBS DMRD, Dr Sandeep Singh Awal MBBS MD DNB EDiR DICRI FRCR