Our school requires us to take 4 months of electives, 1 month of which cannot be in our residency field. One of the clinical electives that I thought would be helpful would be Radiology.
During my surgery sub-Is, we would spend time reading our patients’ scans and imaging. From CTs to ultrasounds and MRIs, the surgeons would dissect the images to determine if a patient needed to go to the OR. Nearly half of our morning reports would be focused on imaging. Because the surgical team had a strong clinical background of each patient, we could look for certain patterns or signs that would identify if a patient truly needed surgical intervention, or could be managed non-operatively.
One of my mentors in surgery told me that he never relied on the radiologist’s report. Another mentor, however, told me the opposite. He would look at the scans, identify a source, and then meet up with the radiologist to discuss the plan. I later conferred with many radiologists who worked with my mentor, and they appreciated the discussion and additional clinical context. It’s incredible how radiologists create a huge differential diagnosis, with little clinical information. The collaboration between surgeon and radiologist seems essential.
Since I was post-Match during this elective, we spent most of my rotation on surgical cases. Radiologists gave me valuable advice on reading cases, and what to consider. It was truly a blessing.
One radiologist said: A picture is worth a thousand words. Without clinical context, he could immediately come up with 4-5 diagnoses on the differential based on the imaging. With further clinical clues he was able to discern what the source would be for a patient, and could help the surgeon determine if an operation was necessary. I was humbled to see the collaboration.
What other electives have you taken that you learned from, even though you didn’t plan to?