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
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine