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6 Key Practices for Positive Radiologists Wellbeing

Last month 4ways was proud to once again be a part of the Royal College of Radiologists Conference: RCRLive21. 4ways hosted a fascinating panel discussion surrounding the relationship between mental health and radiologists. The panel was made up of Dr David Grant, Dr Heather Harris, Dr Sarah Burnett-Moore. They were also joined by Dr Warren Larkin, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and the session was chaired by our CCO Annie Meharg.  

During the session the panel identified 6 key takeaways from the session to give guidance on maintaining positive wellbeing as a radiologist. 

1. Learn To Say No

Discovering when to say no to increasing workloads is a difficult but invaluable skill for maintaining your wellbeing whilst at work. This can be challenging when you may feel obliged to complete scans, knowing a patient is waiting for results on the other side of it. However, as Dr David Grant affirmed during the session:  

“Prioritising yourself is the same as prioritising patient care.” 

When you are feeling your best, you can give your best back to others. A practical way to ensure you manage your time and do not burnout, is to implement boundary setting. A few practical ways to set yourself some boundaries whilst at work are: 

  • Stick to your allotted hours – being strict with yourself that you will not continue to work once your reporting session is over.  
  • Set your Out of Office on – when you are away from your desk, make sure to set your Out of Office on to ensure you are not tempted to check your emails to really switch off from work.  
  • Know your limits – recognise what a realistic amount of work you can commit to and say no to the extra when you feel overwhelmed. 

By clarifying what your expectations of a manageable workload is, you will be able to make the most of your time when working and when you are not.  

2. Radiologist Wellbeing = Patient Safety  

Remember, by reporting when you feel at your best, you are ensuring the best possible outcomes for your patient. Do not be afraid to raise the safety card if workloads are unsafe or if you are feeling under pressure. By making it visible that you have an overwhelming workload, you will help others to recognise what is achievable. It is not sustainable to continue under extreme workloads, so take time out when you need it.  

3. Positive Feedback 

Often, when we receive feedback, it is focused on what can be improved, whilst reviewing what is going well can be neglected. Having positive feedback is a useful reminder of what a good job you are doing.  

A great way to seek out positive feedback is from your team or colleagues. Being part of a team brings a sense of connection and provides a network of support around you. Consider how often you provide positive comments for others or show gratitude for the work they do. By creating a culture of recognising others’ achievements, you will be able to learn from both positive and negative feedback. This could also be extended outside of your team to how you interact with other departments across the hospital.  

4. Practice Self-care  

Self-care has long been considered a key element in maintaining your wellbeing. During the RCR session Dr Warren Larkin, detailed some techniques to practice self-care.  

  • Diarise me time – set aside time when you will take time for yourself and not for work. 
  • Supportive relationships – having positive interactions with others on a regular basis is crucial for combatting stress and switching off from the workday. 
  • Sleep – ensure you are getting enough sleep to effectively rest after your day. 
  • Access to nature – nature has fantastic benefits for our wellbeing, taking some time to get fresh air and surround yourself in nature is another effective way to step away from work. 
  • Exercise – doing something physical releases cortisol, which aids in managing stress and can improve the quality of your sleep and your mood.  
  • Diet – what you eat can have a big impact on your mood. Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet has proven benefits on reducing depression rates.  
  • Mindfulness – there are many ways to implement mindfulness into your routine. This could be as simple as meditating during the day for a few minutes or taking up an art or craft activity. Mindfulness is about concentrating on one thing, in order to take your mind off of anything that you may be finding stressful. 

5. Minimise interruptions  

It can be really distracting to have your flow interrupted when in the middle of a piece of work. This may be from colleagues or from others if you are working from home. To combat this, treat the time you spend on reporting as sacred and not to be interrupted. Set aside time to deal with interruptions before they arise and so your reporting time is kept separate. This could be setting up a place for colleagues to go when they have a question or allotting a time in your day to deal with queries.

6. Look at how technology can support you  

Consider how can developing technologies such as AI could reduce unnecessary workloads and improve clinical safety netting. Decision support systems are designed to give you confidence and work like another colleague giving a second pair of eyes to a scan. There are some AI systems that will be able to auto triage, in order for you to prioritise your work more quickly and therefore progress through your workload in a more manageable way.  

If you have not seen the Wellbeing session from the RCRLive21 conference, you will still be able to view in your own time by using this link to register. 

Remember, it is okay not to be okay. Reaching out for help and notifying others when you feel overwhelmed is the best course of action for you and for patients.  

If you are unsure where to go for help or for more information concerning wellbeing and the medical profession, these resources may be of interest to you. 

The NHSPractitioner Health Programme – Practitioner Health

The Doctor’s Support Network – The Doctors’ Support Network – Home page (dsn.org.uk) 

Every Mind MattersEvery Mind Matters – NHS (www.nhs.uk) – Has a range of useful resources, tools and signposting. 

For urgent support:

Samaritans 

When life is tough, Samaritans are here to listen at any time of the day or night. You can talk to them about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how difficult: 

Shout 85258 

Shout 85258 offers confidential 24/7 crisis text support for times when you need immediate assistance: 

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