Friday, March 29, 2013

You Can Kiss The R's Goodbye

This is sobering news from the New York Times for the radiology profession. According to the paper, radiology had one of the fastest decline in income among all medical fields. I guess we can now leave the R out of the ROAD to happiness in medicine.

The paper used the example of St. Barnabas Hospital, which is canceling its radiology residency program. The hospital is outsourcing its diagnostic radiology functions to a teleradiology outfit, which can do the same job for less money. Understandably, the new radiology servicing company refused to carry on the residency program. In its attempt to sound politically correct, St. Barnabas said it was shifting the government's residency training money from the radiology department to the primary care residencies, opening up more spots to train internists. Uh huh.

Now the poor radiology residents at St. Barnabas are scrambling to find another residency position, anywhere. They have even been directed to other hospitals where they have to pay for their own salaries and insurance but can continue their training until they graduate. That only adds about $65,000 per year to their six figure medical school debt. What a deal.

Of course many people have seen this coming for some time ever since medical imaging turned all digital. With digital files, anybody anywhere in the world can quickly review a film and type a quick read back to the source. If there is nobody willing to read a CT at 3:00 AM in one hospital, there is probably somebody who will do it in a different time zone for probably less money. Therefore there is less incentive for smaller hospitals to pay for radiologists to staff the costly night shifts.

As a result, radiologists' salaries have dropped ten percent in one survey. This probably isn't going to end well as more hospitals hire teleradiology sweat shops to read their X-rays for them at a lower cost. Without the need for having a living breathing radiologist present in the building, there really is little incentive for hospitals to keep paying the huge salaries currently commanded by the specialty.


  1. I'm in anethesia, so it pains me to say this, but over on SDN, lots of people seem to be fearing salaries will drop with Obamacare too. Check out Blade MD's thoughts over on SDN for instance. He's a bit over the top sometimes but he says a lot of good stuff in my opinion.

  2. My medical school's president just informed us that the UPMC hospital group in PA just let 9 Radiologists go and cut $100k from the remaining radiologist's salaries. Also, that Anesthesiologist are next on the chopping block.