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…and called me a neuroradiologist. It was about 15 years ago. I had retired from full-time practice as a general radiologist. Still, I found that there was a need for an efficient radiologist to fill in on a locum tenens basis in hospital-based practices. Some had a shortage of radiologists due to hospitals firing their radiology group or other problems within that group.
The opportunities were endless. I generally only worked one week at a time with no back-to-back weeks, and I was very well paid. Because I was efficient, I was in high demand for situations that were understaffed and overloaded. That’s how I spent three weeks at a major hospital in Kansas City, filling in for an interventional neuroradiologist who had an independent practice separate from the main radiology teaching staff.
He had a neurosurgical partner who was qualified to perform interventional procedures, such as placing a catheter into a thrombus, causing an acute stroke. But he needed someone to read the many dozens of CT scans and MRIs each day that were part of the service.
So, although I was not technically a neuroradiologist, I was adequately qualified to interpret the studies that needed to be read. And I was staying at a Holiday Inn.
The unwritten rule of radiology is if you don’t know what you are looking at, at least describe it as well as you can. I was a very good radiologist because I knew my limitations. There were actually no situations in those three weeks where I was uncomfortable because of being in an unfamiliar situation. Although I had never read mass spectrometry MR scans for tumor evaluation, I had a cheat sheet that told me everything I needed to know; I just described the findings with exquisite detail. The real neuroradiologist would be back soon enough.
I also supervised radiology residents on the service and discovered they had somehow never learned that basic rule of radiology. They often seemed clueless about a study but would dictate a report just by copying and pasting previous reports without ever saying what they thought they were dealing with.
It was a learning experience for all of us. I felt like I made more of an impact in those three weeks than I had in a very long time.Published in