Over the past two decades, the practice of radiology has changed, with radiologists having become more isolated. With the digital revolution precipitating widespread implementation of both electronic medical records and PAC systems, radiologists have increasingly worked from workstations with less patient contact and decreasing personal interactions with referring clinicians.
The COVID-19 pandemic further isolated radiologists. The initial social distancing requirements, use of PPE, promotion of remote work environments, and reduced meaningful social interactions during this era have amplified the loneliness of radiologists.
As humans, radiologists have a fundamental need to socially connect. And for good reasons: social isolation and loneliness, markers of poor social health, have been associated with multiple adverse psychological outcomes, especially sleep fragmentation, as well as anxiety and depressive symptoms. Studies suggest loneliness is a risk factor for stroke, as well as for hypertension, cognitive decline, and progression of Alzheimer’s dementia. Restoring a sense of community, both at work and beyond, can help radiologists overcome isolation, improve their overall wellness, and mitigate significant health issues.
How does a radiologist do so?
Radiology is a team sport, in which radiologists interact daily with patients, non-clinical staff, technologists, and other radiologists. In the workplace, these interactions can be leveraged to create a sense of community. A positive attitude among teammates can help create a bond of positive energy. Social gatherings organized by the clinical team, both within and outside of the department, can help further create camaraderie between members of the team.
Radiologists also have opportunities to develop connections with referring clinicians. Multidisciplinary tumor boards offer a unique opportunity for radiologists to interface directly or virtually with referring clinicians and become engaged in the care of complex patients. This collaborative atmosphere promotes personal job satisfaction.
Organizations can be instrumental in supporting a culture of community at work. Physician lounges provide a safe space for radiologists to interface with physicians from other specialties. Organization-led social events, such as fundraisers and family outings, may further promote a sense of collegiality.
Beyond the organization, another way for radiologists to connect with other radiologists is to attend regional and national society meetings. A great example is the ARRS Annual Meeting, to be held this year from April 16-20 in the beautiful backdrop of Hawaii. The meeting offers opportunities to not only learn educational content from leading experts, but also to network with other radiologists from around the globe. Opportunities to eat lunch, socialize, and collaborate on research projects with fellow radiologists await. Meanwhile, the inaugural ARRS Radiology Wellness Summit will be a wonderful cultural medium to cross-fertilize ideas, helping us all move forward in the wellness and wellbeing space. Hope to see you there!
In “Words of Wellness” on RadTeams.org, members of the ARRS Wellness Subcommittee share what “wellness” and “wellbeing” mean in their own clinical practices, research focuses, and everyday lives.
Dr. Parikh’s ARRS “Sound of Wellness” Playlist Selection:
“Lean on Me” by Bill Withers
You may also be interested in
- ARRS Online Course: Sharpening Teamwork and Communication Skills
- AJR Live Webinar: Women’s Issues in IR, DR, and Professional Life
- ARRS Quick Bytes: Emergent Imaging: Improving CT Workflow and Image Quality
The opinions expressed on RadTeams are those of the author(s); they do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or position of the editors, reviewers, or publisher.