What is it Like to Specialize in Diagnostic Radiology?

Craig Smith, MDMy name is Craig Smith, and I’m a Diplomate of the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS). I’ve been a diagnostic radiologist since 1982. I chose radiology because of the lifestyle. I wanted to practice a medical specialty that would allow me to spend more time with my family, and radiology turned out to be a very good choice. I’m able to spend lots of quality time with my family, take wonderful vacations, and still have room on my schedule to attend conferences.

Professionally, I love anatomy and enjoy applying that discipline to the interpretation of images. Solving complex problems can be fun. I especially enjoy interacting with other radiologists in the reading room. Being able to get a second and third opinion from your colleagues is invaluable, and helping your partners or residents with difficult cases is deeply satisfying.

Although I have saved several patients’ lives by making critical diagnoses on X-rays, working in diagnostic radiology isn’t always straightforward, and can be quite demanding. Every diagnostic radiologist needs to develop the mental stamina to rapidly and accurately interpret a reasonable number of studies in a given time, making sure that each report provides a clear and concise summary that answers the clinical question.  In fact, the biggest challenge in the specialty comes from having to read more studies faster while still being accurate.

One of my most challenging cases, which is also one of my most memorable, was that of a 17-year-old boy who suffered a neck injury after diving into a swimming pool. This happened many years ago, before the frequent use of CT scans. The initial study at a different hospital was read as negative, so the boy was sent home. However, he came to our institution still complaining of neck pain. I suspected a fracture and eventually proved that he had sustained a fracture of the odontoid process.

If I had to offer a diagnostic radiologist in training a word of advice it would be: Learn to really enjoy the work. If you truly enjoy it, you will never have to work a day in your life. Also, never stop reading. Read like the Dickens.

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House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
New Approaches to Improve Patient Outcomes
June 10-15, 2022
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Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

I value my ABPS certification very highly because it is one-of-a-kind certification in Urgent Care Medicine under the auspices of a larger, reputable organization. I really enjoy the professional and personal relationships I have formed with other individuals in the development of this new board and appreciate the great lengths that ABPS goes to ensure and enhance the recognition of it's component boards.
Joseph D. Toscano, MD
Urgent Care Medicine
ABPS provides a guarantee of a high level of competency. Not only has this been good for my professional development but it has assured my patients that the clinicians they see are trained to the highest degree.

Mimi Guarneri, MD, FACC
Integrative Medicine
ABPS gives its members unique opportunities to learn and develop professionally. I have been practicing Emergency Medicine for over 27 years and have been privileged to be a member of this fabulous organization. Through ABPS I have developed tremendously in my professional career becoming a consummate practitioner of my trade, a physician leader locally at my hospital, in my region , at the state level, and a published clinical researcher.
Leslie Mukau, MD, FAAEP, FACEP
Emergency Medicine