Many people don’t understand the kind of work a radiologist does. In fact, 44 percent of patients don’t even consider their radiologist to be a doctor. The role of a radiologist is often misconstrued, and many have embellished ideas of a radiologist’s lifestyle. Radiologists often solely operate behind the scenes — making it hard for patients and other physicians to appreciate the value of their work. More so, patients struggle to comprehend the complexities that are involved in the image reading process.
“When patients don’t recognize our training and expertise, we lose the ability to weigh in on their decision making, even if we are among the best qualified to provide input on certain aspects of their care,” writes musculoskeletal and breast imaging radiologist Nisha Mehta, MD, for Radiology Business. However, there are ways to get to the root of the misconception, and remedy the damaging stereotype radiologists currently uphold. Here’s how we can begin to strategize a new public perspective:
Increase social media participation. Generating dialogue in forums, Facebook groups, and on LinkedIn is a constructive way to create more awareness of the radiologist’s role in a hospital. By initiating discussions on the importance of cancer screenings and radiation safety, patients and healthcare workers will start to place a higher value on radiology. According to Mehta, “Radiologist participation in tumor boards, hospital committees and grand rounds settings go a long way in showcasing the breadth of a radiologist’s training and expertise.”
Putting a face to a name. There’s limited opportunity for radiologists to develop a rapport with patients. However, there are other ways to establish department awareness. Mehta suggests displaying photos of radiologists with their backgrounds and qualifications in radiology waiting rooms, and promoting videos of radiologists answering frequently asked questions. That way, patients can get to know their radiologist on a basic level.