Radiology Is an Art (or Vice Versa)?

Williams.tifThis post contributed by Charles D. Williams, MD, FACR.

A recent study published in JACR noted that radiology residents were better able to identify abnormalities in radiographs after analyzing artwork.

I don’t know how many of us may know a (Salvador) DalÍ from “Dogs Playing Poker.” However, it is intriguing that mind exercises outside the reading room just might help us be better at our jobs.

Flamboyant Artist

Describing the art in detail without “interpreting” the artwork helped the young doctors take in all the information they were seeing (to the finest detail) rather than looking for something specific to support a preformed conclusion.

I was once told a story about researchers that asked a spider to jump. Each time it did, they removed a leg. Once they had taken all the legs, they asked the spider to jump one more time. Of course, it couldn’t. So, the researchers concluded that a spider with no legs can’t hear!

You see, sometimes we have the right facts, but come to the wrong conclusions.

The art program may have also helped the residents describe what they were seeing in plain language (where possible) and provide a more thorough report of what they saw. Heard that anywhere? 

Now, I am not suggesting that all radiologists rush to the nearest art gallery (not discouraging it either). However, I do encourage you to think outside the box about things that can improve your work performance and work/life balance.

I have heard that some of us like to sail or have become pilots and find that the pre-sail or pre-flight check list and other aspects of those hobbies have helped them on the job.

I would be interested in knowing if you have any favorite non-radiology exercises or hobbies that you feel help you be a better radiologist (or at least better at some aspects of the job).

If you have examples, would you mind sharing in the comments section below and joining the discussion on Engage (login required)?




One thought on “Radiology Is an Art (or Vice Versa)?

  1. I’ve been practicing photography as a serious hobby for quite some time now – as and when my schedule permits me to do so. I’ve found the experience of framing a picture and fiddling with the exposure to create the perfect shot akin to the practice of radiology in which the right test for the right clinical question provides the best answer. It also has made me more aware of the limitations of imaging. Post processing images and inviting critique on the same has in turn made me positively more critical of my work as a radiologist !

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