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Academic vs Private practice in radiology

Academic and private practice are different professional experiences, though with some overlap. Choosing between the two is a matter of individual taste and preferences. Medcareerhub, a boutique recruitment firm, can help you find your best fit in academia or private practice.

What does a career in academic radiology look like?

As an academic radiologist, you will likely practice within the subfield of your fellowship. A typical workday will include clinical responsibilities, teaching residents, research, administrative duties, and departmental meetings such as quality assurance.

The advantages of academic radiology

You will practice your specialized field of radiology. The workload compared to private practice is comparatively less.

The main advantage in academia is that you work with residents, fellows, and advanced practitioners. You can mentor the residents and work on various scientific projects with them.

If you are interested in basic science and have a novel idea, academic centers will help you realize your dream.

Being in academia naturally facilitates keeping up with ongoing research and best practices via abundant opportunities to conduct and attend seminars and conferences.

Some centers offer an allotted “academic day” per week solely for educational activities. Academia presents the opportunity for regular interpersonal interaction with students, residents, technicians, and other faculty; some deem this a vital component of their work life. Academic setups can offer benefits and greater job stability compared to private methods.

Disadvantages of academic radiology

Focused practice within one subfield can truncate the scope of your clinical knowledge and dexterity over time. “Academic days,” if offered, are increasingly unlikely to be unfettered by other duties, creating a cycle of playing catch-up late into the evenings or over weekends, especially if you are keen to climb the ranks and build a robust research repertoire. Monetary compensation and paid time off are generally lower than in private practice, although this gap seems to be narrowing late.

What does a career in private practice look like?

As a radiologist in private practice, you are likely to be almost exclusively involved in clinical work, reading studies across a range of bodily systems. Even specialized interventionalists may spend the bulk of their time interpreting general studies, and in smaller practices, procedures like biopsies may be performed by non-interventionalists.

The advantages of private practice

More jobs are available in private practice than academia, barring local market saturation. Private practice requires a rapid pace of highly accurate clinical work, which can be a satisfying skill to acquire. To facilitate this pace, many patterns will have efficient systems in place, making for a quicker and more linear work experience. For instance, the patient is likely to be prepped and ready on the table for you to come in and efficiently complete your procedure without much downtime between things.

Overall, private practices are less rigidly hierarchical than academic settings, but the collegiality of each setup will vary. Private practice can leave more room for “leaving work at work” and schedule flexibility. Your days off are more likely to be entirely your own.

The pay and paid time off are higher than in academia, but, as mentioned previously, this gap is no longer as significant.

Disadvantages of private practice

The pace and accuracy of clinical output required by private practice can be initially hard to keep up with. This may present a new learning curve, depending on the case volume and extent of independent course you were allowed in your residency. As working conditions vary greatly from one practice to another, it is essential to speak with as many people as possible within the practice you intend to join to assess whether the workplace is a good fit for you and what the road to partnership looks like.

Jobs in private practice tend to be less secure than academic positions. In evaluating job stability, you may inquire about time to partnership, the criteria to become a partner, and the criteria used to assess a candidate for partnership. These are some essential questions to ask. Medcareerhub can help you in evaluating your contracts.

Are there other options?

Health networks like Kaiser directly employ radiologists and pay slightly better than academic jobs, with the work being primarily clinically focused. Veterans Affairs (VA) centers can provide the opportunity for an intellectual attachment with a slightly higher pay grade.

In Summary

Choosing between academic and private practice in radiology can seem tricky. Still, as residents, many of you would have had experience with academic centers and hopefully the chance to pursue an elective at a local private practice. Aside from taking stock of your professional preferences, priorities, and detailed information, Medcareerhub can help you find your best fit.