RSNA2023 Leading Through Change
Daily Bulletin

Mindset Change From Personal Career Path To Overall Contribution To The Specialty

Monday, Nov. 27, 2023

By Mary Henderson

R. Paul Guillerman, MD, kicked off the Sunday morning session, "Careerism to Professionalism: A Personal and Institutional Imperative," sponsored by the RSNA Professionalism Committee, offering guidance to radiologists looking to fit in and stand out in their first professional position.

(Left to right) Maxfield, Bixby and Guillerman

He encouraged physicians to find their purpose and focus on growing their strengths rather than eliminating weaknesses.

"Find out what you're good at and take advantage of it," said Dr. Guillerman, professor of radiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "The goal is to master a topic that cannot be outsourced or automated and make yourself non-fungible."

He said radiologists should continually evaluate their skill set, perhaps through a 360 performance review. When it comes to job choice, he suggested optimizing for the network effect rather than pursuing the best salary, benefits and title.

"Consider who's there that will actually help you in your career," he said. "You want to be around a lot of decent, honest people who are also high performers."

Avoiding Early-Career Mistakes

Charles Maxfield, MD, outlined a step-by-step process for aspiring academic radiologists to avoid career self-sabotage. He encouraged young physicians to set their sights on a specific goal and to identify a mentor.

"Mentees have a responsibility to their mentor to take initiative for the relationship and to be receptive to feedback," said Dr. Maxfield, professor of radiology and pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC.

To keep a career on track, he encouraged radiologists to be team players who take initiative but aren't afraid to ask for help. He also stressed the importance of discerning when and how to say 'yes' and 'no.'

"In the moment, it may be hard to say no to an opportunity," said Dr. Maxfield. "To make a more informed decision, take a few days and talk to a mentor before giving a final answer."

Finally, Dr. Maxfield advised young radiologists to embrace work-life balance, which has been shown to increase professional productivity and satisfaction.

The Benefits of Early Career Trial and Error

Early career years afford radiologists an opportunity to lead without a title and to practice good followership.

"Being a good follower is something we all need to learn how to do effectively," she said. "I think the way you follow says a lot about how you'll lead," said Sarah D. Bixby, MD, MBA, associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"Effective followers think for themselves, have a positive attitude, and are able to agreeably disagree," Dr. Bixby concluded. "You can learn to become a good leader, not by chasing titles, but by learning how to be an effective good follower first."

Access the presentation, "From Careerism to Professionalism: A Personal and Institutional Imperative (Sponsored by the RSNA Professionalism Committee)," (S1-CNPM04) on demand at