PMD: 5 Reasons Why Radiologists Are NOT "Real Doctors"

[FPMD: As one of my good friends just informed me, someone may take this post literally.  Let me clarify, the post below is sarcastic - I believe radiologists are real doctors, and as such we don't need to get all defensive against a false perception.  I've never been told seriously by anyone that a radiologist is not a real doctor.]

[FPMD: Welcome to this week's Future Proof post on Physician's Money Digest (PMD).  I recently read another PMD article titled 5 Reasons Why Radiologists Are 'Real Doctors'.  As a future interventional radiologist, I thought I would say a few words about it.  As usual, read the full post at PMD.  An excerpt is provided below.]

McLarson, MD's recent article 5 Reasons Why Radiologists Are 'Real Doctors' seems to have struck a nerve with the PMD community.  As a future interventional radiologist, I respectfully disagree with his view.  Here are 5 reasons why radiologists are NOT "real doctors".

1.  False premise - No one (at least not to me) is arguing that a radiologist's medical education isn't real or somehow not as valid as another physician's.  The reason for the quotation marks around "real doctors" is very simple - we overwhelmingly are NOT the kind of doctors that rush to run code blues.  In that sense, pretty much most physicians outside of critical care, ER and anesthesia are not "real doctors".  The medical community is well aware of this, all you have to do is visit Gomerblog for articles like this one.  And we are not alone, they make fun of every specialty!  

2.  Internship fades - I completed a one-year internship in internal medicine prior to beginning radiology residency.  Do I retain everything I learned during my year as an internal medicine physician?  I don't think you need an MD behind your name to answer that.  Yes as radiologists we know a lot of stuff, yes we are extremely valuable in patient care and management, but the knowledge we acquire and utilize on a day-to-day basis are relevant to our jobs.  And that's the key - everyone knows stuff relevant to their jobs.  Perhaps an internal medicine physician does not know the difference between a Monteggia and Galeazzi fracture, but try asking an orthopedic surgeon.

3.  The ubiquity of radiology is rivaled by its obscurity - Yes radiology is in pretty much every single diagnostic algorithm outside your garden variety otitis media.  But at the same time, we are consultants by and large, which means we don't have the level of exposure to direct patient care as say the urologist down the hall.  In fact, the only specialty I can think of that has less patient interaction is pathology.  As a result, we have very little public "mind share".  I frequently get mistaken for a radiology technologist when I tell people I am a radiologist.  How "real" are you when your patients don't even know you are a doctor?

Read the rest at PMD.

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Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.