One in a series from people sharing their experiences as vRad teleradiologists. In this entry, Jonathon Lee describes his typical workday as a vRad diagnostic radiologist.
I chose to step away from a full partnership position, so I could focus more on family. After a little over a year with vRad, I can’t see me ever going back to the conventional model. I’ve found a better work/life balance, and I’ve discovered unexpected professional rewards as well.
This post answers the question I most often hear from colleagues:
“So, what is a typical day like as a teleradiologist?”
Like most rads, I had always pictured myself in a traditional practice or hospital environment. Teleradiology was at best a back-up plan – in case the practice got bought out and cut staff, or the hospital went under. I thought switching to vRad would require some adjustment. In fact, the transition was effortless.
It's the first time that I've had a job where I seem to happily show up 15 minutes early for work every day and then it's just seamless thereafter. I literally walk to the basement in my pajamas, turn on my computer and start reading scans. The vRad system handles all the administrative stuff in the background.
For me, there was virtually no learning curve in adjusting to vRad. I click on the next available study to access all images and supporting documents. I provide my interpretation, which is recorded and reported to the referring clinician. Then I repeat for subsequent cases at my own pace.
A steady, efficient stream of cases to read – with no interference
I enjoy being able to complete one case, then start fresh with a new one. I control the pace. There’s no downtime during or between studies – vRad takes care of all the administrative stuff so I can simply focus on the case at hand.
I spend almost no time on the inefficiencies I routinely dealt with in a typical practice. It’s wonderful. I don't get called with protocol questions. I don't have to go to barium procedures and things like that. I never find myself on hold waiting to connect with a clinician. I have virtually no undesirable down time, whatsoever.
In a year, I've never made a phone call. I talk to physicians several times a night about emergent findings, but I don't call them. I click a button when I need to talk to Dr. Smith about patient Jones, and my phone rings when she’s available to talk. In the meantime, I can move on to the next study. Patient Jones’ case is still there in the background until the vRad operations team connects with Dr. Smith. Then my phone rings and all the case info pops up on my screen. I've got my report. I've got the images. Even if I've read 5 more cases and I don't remember why I called for the ER physician in the first place, it's all right there in front of me, and I didn't have to waste a second to make it happen.
Speaking of efficiencies, vRad has an unmatched macro library built in to a trouble-free dictation system. It takes the headaches out of reporting.
It makes a big difference in how you feel about your day. It's so much less exhausting to not be trying to multitask at all times. The vRad system takes care of that for me. I don’t even have to think about it.
Connected with clinicians
I was worried I wouldn’t get as much physician interaction as a teleradiologist, but that’s not the case.
I cover a lot of different hospitals in multiple states, but my schedule is fixed – I know exactly what hours I'm going to work every shift. As a result, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how much I’m talking to a small group of doctors on a regular basis. They tend to work the same hours that I do. I'm actually on a first name basis with a lot of ER doctors around the country. The nature of vRad ensures I encounter a variety of new clinicians as well.
Of course, all of these interactions occur remotely via vRad communications tools and technology, but I think all of radiology is headed in that direction. Most of us don’t need to be at the radiology department to look at images anymore – just the IR docs doing procedures.
Many hospitals can't possibly support 3 or 4 radiologist positions on site at all times, let alone one of every subspecialty. They really appreciate access to a higher level of expertise.
It’s cool to know that, every day, I give physicians and their patients access to a level of expertise that they otherwise wouldn’t have. It makes that hospital more valuable to the community, and it prevents the need for them to divert some patients to a distant trauma center, potentially delaying needed treatment.
While I like my home office in Dublin, Ohio, I don’t always work from my basement reading room there. I have a little condo in Key West, Florida, where I’ve set up another reading room. As long as I have a computer, I can fill my shift with vRad from virtually any location.
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