A practical guide to radiology trainee recruitment

2013 07 03 12 20 51 741 Oscar Wilde 200b

It's that time of year again. You may be one of the select few who have been invited to shortlist candidates for radiology trainee posts. When I say invited, I mean sweet-talked, cajoled, or frankly, bullied.

Dr. Paul McCoubrie is a consultant radiologist at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, U.K.Dr. Paul McCoubrie is a consultant radiologist at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, U.K.
Dr. Paul McCoubrie is a consultant radiologist at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, U.K.

In the good old days, the pile of CVs could be safely thrown down the stairs, with those alighting near the top being invited to interview. I did hear of an anesthetist who would simply throw the top half of the pile into the bin, claiming that they were unlucky and that he didn't want to work with unlucky people.

Nowadays, the application and shortlisting process is all appropriately anonymous and structured, however, its electronic nature makes it a little bland. For example, the presence of blood, sweat, tears +/- midnight oil-stains on the application form show a degree of effort. Consequently, the allotted two weeks of yet more staring at tiny typeface on a computer screen gets wearing. Especially when trying to differentiate the next generation of radiologists from the increasingly homogenous medical graduates.

Like most CVs, obituaries, and research proposals, these applications contain a certain degree of economy of truth. All candidates, according to their applications, are a bunch of saintly, dedicated, superhuman, water walkers. However, as Oscar Wilde once so neatly didn't put it, "There are lies, damned lies, and radiology trainee applications."

To shortlist effectively requires an ability to read between the lines. So, for your edification and use, here is a key to the actual meaning of commonly used phrases:

  • My desire to experience a diverse array of clinical pathology attracted me to a career in radiology: I am a rather morbid and sinister individual.
  • Radiology is a career that I think will challenge, interest, and stimulate me for the foreseeable future: Radiology looks cool but I may well change my mind on the first day of the job.
  • I actively attend x-ray meetings: I sit at the front wearing my red jumper and when I fall asleep, I try not to snore.
  • I enjoy working with my hands: I am a failed surgeon.
  • I hope to pursue a career in interventional radiology: I am a failed surgeon.
  • My interest in radiology grew after completion of each stage of my surgical career: I am a failed surgeon.
  • My understanding of anatomy and pathology will be useful as a radiologist: I am a failed surgeon with a diploma.
  • I have realized that my personality is more suited to radiology: My boss says that I am a liability and should be locked in a dark room away from patients.
  • I am fascinated by the use of advanced technology: I am a nerd.
  • I enjoy physics and the use of imaging technology complements my IT skills: I am a card-carrying uber-nerd.
  • I spent some time shadowing a senior radiologist: Some people called it stalking; curse those pesky restraining orders!
  • I have spent a lot of time in the radiology department: It is a bit of a maze and I get lost easily.
  • I often accompany my patients to the radiology department: It is en route to the canteen, you see.
  • I have heard great things about the radiology training in your area: I have no idea about your scheme but a bit of random flattery can't harm, can it?
  • I am confident in interpreting chest x-rays: I lack insight into my nauseating overconfidence.
  • I have excellent eyesight/gray-scale discrimination/spatial awareness: I really am struggling to pad this out to 150 words.
  • Learning to interpret images is like learning a different language: I really am making it up but I'm desperate for a job.

Dr. Paul McCoubrie is a consultant radiologist at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, U.K.

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