Author: Leona Werezak

17 Sep 2020

Radiologist Burnout

Why Does It Happen and How Can You Prevent It?

Although most physicians choose to become a radiologist because they see it as a meaningful career, burnout in radiology is at an all-time high compared to other medical specialties. In the 2018 Medscape National Physician Burnout and Depression Report, radiology was ranked as the seventh highest specialty for burnout among physicians. This is compared to its 20th highest ranking in 2017. The 2018 report found that 42% of 15,543 physicians surveyed reported burnout, with 45% of these physicians being radiologists.
Radiologist Burnout

What is Radiologist Burnout?

Burnout is characterized by feelings of being emotionally depleted, and a sense that one is accomplishing less and experiencing less satisfaction in one’s role. It is often accompanied by depersonalization where the physician feels disconnected from his or her work and peers, and where patients are no longer treated with empathy as individuals in pain or crisis due to indifference.

Impact of Radiologist Burnout

Burnout in radiology can lead to patient errors and omissions as well as other adverse events. In addition, there is the potential for lost productivity, and therefore lost income, when a physician is not able to function optimally or is absent for physical or mental health reasons. These are high costs to pay for burnout, not to mention the toll it takes on a physician’s mental and physical well-being.

Other results of burnout include:

  • • Physician attrition from the profession
  • • Early retirement resulting in more physician shortages
  • • Increasing health care costs
  • • Increased risk of substance abuse
  • • Increased risk of suicide


Early Warning Signs of Radiologist Burnout

Being able to recognize when you or one of your colleagues is beginning to show signs of burnout is important so it can be caught and addressed as soon as possible. Some early warning signs include:

      1. Complete exhaustion

        Exhaustion may be a feeling of emotional, mental, and/or physical fatigue. Signs of exhaustion or fatigue include:

        • • Difficulty waking up or getting out of bed in the morning
        • • Inner resistance to going to work
        • • Feeling of having no energy
        • • Irritability
        • • No desire to socialize after work with friends or family or participate in activities and hobbies
        • • Lack of desire to engage in personal wellness activities such as exercise and cooking at home


    1. Emotional detachment

      One way of coping with emotional fatigue and burnout is by detaching emotionally from patients. This emotional detachment can look different for different people, but may include cynicism towards patients and a more critical attitude when dealing with colleagues and staff. For others, sarcasm is used to emotionally detach from patients and deal with frustration.

    2. Work is dominating your life

      If you feel like your work is taking over your life in an unhealthy way, it probably is. If you find yourself constantly thinking about work even when you are trying to do non-work-related things, this is a warning sign. Because of the exhaustion that accompanies burnout, you may find your personal and social relationships suffering as well. And if you have no desire or ability to do anything but work, this is a sign you are in trouble.

    3. Feel like work is pointless and/or without a purpose

       Having bad days and feeling frustrated at times is part of any job. However, if you find yourself questioning why you are doing the work you are doing, or feel what you do is not making a difference, you are likely experiencing burnout from your job.

    4. Mistakes are more frequent

       When you are exhausted, frustrated, and emotionally detached from your patients and those you work with, mistakes are more likely to happen. If you find yourself making mistakes more often than usual, or making errors you would not usually make, it may be time to step back and reevaluate what is happening since this can be a sign of burnout.


Steps to Address Radiologist Burnout

Healthcare facilities and organizations are able to play an important role in helping reduce burnout and increase radiologist job satisfaction. Some strategies include:

  • • Recruit and assign radiologists to work in areas they prefer, enjoy, and are skilled and certified in.
  • • Avoid assigning work to radiologists who lack the certification or skill to perform the work competently and safely.
  • • Identify ways to reduce time radiologists spend on administrative activities by hiring assistants and considering virtual scribes to perform these activities instead.
  • • Support and encourage strong teams of healthcare professionals that interact regularly to assess workflow efficiency and work-related needs and difficulties of team members.
  • • Learn how to assess and recognize ongoing frustration and impending burnout in healthcare professionals and identify caring ways to offer assistance.


How to Avoid Burnout as a Radiologist

Some important steps you can take to avoid burnout in radiology include:

  • • Avoid working in isolation when possible
  • • Work with your peers and staff to create a positive work environment that supports one another
  • • Take frequent breaks from your workstation
  • • Get outside or away from your work area entirely during breaks
  • • Consider setting up an ergonomic sit/stand combination workstation
  • • Identify and engage in regular self-care habits that help you recharge physically, mentally, and emotionally
  • • Schedule days off regularly and take personal or vacation time off work
  • • Revisit regularly why you chose to become a radiologist and all the people you are helping (and have helped) with your expertise



30 Jun 2020

Ergonomic Desk Setup

As a radiology or medical professional working from home, you need a comfortable ergonomic desk setup to help prevent repetitive strain injuries and unnecessary fatigue while maximizing your efficiency and productivity. When deciding on your office ergonomics at home, there are specific factors to consider when setting up and evaluating how you will use your home workstation. These include:

  1. Screen position

    Your monitor should be located directly behind your keyboard, and in front of you at approximately an arm’s length away. Adjust the top of the screen so it rests at or just below your eye level. Lower the monitor another 1-2 inches for ease of viewing if you wear bifocals. When reading images, try to reduce light as much as possible and focus on placing monitors on dark surfaces to help keep glare to a minimum.

  1. Chair position

    Be sure to select an office chair that supports your natural spinal curves and that feels comfortable to sit in. Adjust the height of your chair so your feet rest flat on the floor. If the height of your desk requires, use a footrest and place your feet flat on its surface. Adjust the armrests of your chair so you can comfortably rest your arms on the armrests while keeping your arms close to your body and your shoulders relaxed.

  1. Keyboard and mouse placement

    Place your keyboard and mouse on the same surface and make sure they are within easy reach. When using your keyboard or mouse, keep your upper arms close to your body, your hands at elbow height or slightly lower, and your wrists straight. Consider alternating hands to use your mouse or getting an adjustable mouse that responds to light touch for operation. Use keyboard shortcuts when possible to minimize how much you need to use your mouse.

  1. Key object placement

    Keep commonly used desk items within easy reach when you’re sitting. This includes items like pens, stapler, notepad, phone and other office items you use often when seated. If you’re not able to comfortably reach an item, it is better to stand up to retrieve an item rather than reach for it.

  1. Natural posture

    Many people have a tendency to start leaning forward when working from a desk or office chair. You want to ensure you are sitting back completely in the seat of your chair with your back against the back of the chair. This will help maintain the most natural posture for your body and back. For your legs, you want to sit so there is a 90° – 100° angle between your legs and back.

  1. Head and neck position

    The position of your head and neck is just as important as a position of the rest of your body when seated at your workstation. The head can tend to drift downward when working at a computer. This can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. To avoid this, adjust the position of your monitor so your eyes focus on the middle of the screen. Add monitor arms to adjust monitors forward/backward and up/down when sitting or standing at your desk. Using a headset may also help keep the head and neck in a more relaxed and neutral position.

  1. Physical activity

    Having an ergonomic desk setup at home does not negate the need to get up and move—often. Experts recommend getting up from your desk and stretching, moving about your office, or grabbing something to drink every 25 to 28 minutes. If something doesn’t feel right or you feel uncomfortable, consider readjusting and reevaluating your desk setup. We offer free ergonomic consultations for home desks.

  1. Give your eyes a break

    In addition to moving your body, it’s also important to move your eyes off your computer screen approximately every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, looking 20 feet away if possible, to give your eyes a rest (20/20/20 rule). Also, be sure your home office space is dimly lit and that there is no glare or reflection coming off your screen as you work.

Setting up an ergonomic workstation at home can take some time and effort – although the benefits such as fewer injuries, reduced strain, and increased productivity make it worthwhile.

To save radiology and medical professionals time and effort in setting up their own ergonomic home workstations, Double Black Imaging provides a custom workstation design service to meet your work needs at home. Our diagnostic imaging experts can make recommendations and help assemble every piece that’s needed for an ergonomic solution outside of the hospital or medical clinic.

Contact us for more information about our custom workstation design service.