One in a series from people sharing their experiences as vRad teleradiologists. In this entry, Jonathon Lee, MD, recounts how, through his search for a more family-friendly vocation, he discovered a trove of professional rewards that have renewed his passion for radiology.
In search of a better work/life balance, I walked away from full partnership in a traditional practice to become a vRad teleradiologist. As I anticipated, the personal rewards have been fantastic. The big surprise, however, is how rewarding it’s been for me professionally, too. I can’t see ever going back to a traditional practice.
Focus on radiology
What I realized very quickly is that my time is now spent doing what I got in to this profession to do in the first place: interpreting radiological studies.
Being a partner in a successful practice demands a lot of time and attention away from the reading room. You’ve got employees to take care of, office space to manage, cash flow and lines-of-credit… Some rads might enjoy being involved in the business aspects of running a traditional practice. (If that’s the case, vRad has some flexibility that way, too.) For me, they were a distraction.
My passion is reading scans and delivering that critical information only we as radiologists can provide to the treating clinicians. These days I focus exclusively on image diagnostics, which allows me to maintain a steady pace of uninterrupted studies throughout each day.
It's so much less exhausting to not be multitasking at all times. This kind of work environment makes a big difference about how you feel about your day and fits my personality fantastically.
Compensation is up to you
As I said earlier, I chose vRad primarily for quality-of-life reasons. Unexpectedly, the move turned into a substantial pay raise as well.
Without the distractions of a traditional practice setting, I am more productive – much more than I anticipated. Each day is filled with doing diagnostic imaging studies. Period. It’s what I’ve trained for, and where I add the most value for everyone involved. My income reflects this.
In a traditional practice, revenue is shared among partners and associates. The motivation is to improve the performance of the team to everyone’s benefit. But, it’s often the case that the burden is on a few high-performers to make up for low-volume producers.
I don’t think high producers have historically thought about this kind of job. But, now that the technology has progressed to where you can read significantly more cases on their system, it's really enjoyable and financially very rewarding.
Feedback fuels personal growth
I was told several times, “Working with vRad will make you a better radiologist.” I was a bit skeptical and unsure how that could be. But I've been really surprised at how true that is.
There's no better feedback loop than the quality-assurance program at vRad. About 70 percent of what I do are preliminary reports, where I give the ER my interpretation of the scan in the middle of the night and early the next morning the onsite radiologist comes and reads my report and looks at the images to be sure they agree. It's a unique situation where you're getting unbiased feedback on nearly everything you do. Any blind spots – the things that maybe you don't focus on quite enough – come out really quickly.
You get lots and lots of feedback. And you're not getting it just from one hospital – like where you trained – you're getting it from radiologists from all over the country who have trained all over the world. Because of that you absorb a lot of knowledge quickly. It was humbling at first, but it's been a great experience for me.
I’ve always been kind of a tech nerd. It’s part of what attracted me to radiology. Tech will continue to dramatically affect what we do – from advanced scanning techniques to rendering algorithms to artificial intelligence. I can stay on the leading edge of these developments through vRad.
While there's going be a need for both tele- and traditional approaches for the foreseeable future, I think the biggest growth is going to be in teleradiology. The promise is particularly fantastic for a little hospital in a remote location that couldn't possibly support 3 or 4 rad positions on site, at all times – let alone one of every sub specialty 24 hours a day. Now that hospital can give patients and physicians access to virtually every radiology subspecialty around-the-clock.
All in all, for someone whose passion is interpreting radiological studies, the rewards can be very good with vRad. You don’t have to take a pay cut to have a much better work/life balance.