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Is it Possible to Not Get Stressed Out in Radiology?

Work is stressful, we can all agree. Radiologists face a never-ending to-do list, and scrambling to get everything done on time is the perfect recipe for stress. Yet, in terms of burn out rates, radiologists are not as susceptible to letting stress get to them as other specialists. According to a 2016 Medscape poll, radiology had a 50 percent burn out rate, and ranked tenth in the most ‘burned out’ specialties — after neurology and before cardiology.


So what causes radiologists to get stressed out? The most common factor is bureaucratic demands, say respondents. Other stressors include being overworked, “feeling like a cog in a wheel,” racing to meet certification requirements, and not earning enough money. Low on the list are dealing with challenging patients, struggling to provide quality care, and “compassion fatigue”, i.e., being overwhelmed with tragic patient circumstances, like death and violence.


These days, trainees are also getting bitten by the stress bug. A 2013 study published in Academic Radiology found that radiology trainees routinely experienced emotional exhaustion and feelings of financial insecurity. Seems like these emerging radiologists had skewed expectations of what the field entailed. As study leader Michael F. McNeely, MD, of the University of Washington put it, “The crux of our research was that many medical students choose radiology with a certain set of expectations and yet the conditions of the field have changed. That disconnect — along with the inherent stresses of becoming a physician — causes burnout.”


In hectic times, remember that feeling anxious and unnerved and par of the course. Critical Care and Urology have it a lot worse.


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