A Day in the Life of UVA Resident Connor Louden, MD
New and prospective residents are often curious about what their daily life will be like as radiology residents. Here’s a typical day described by Connor Louden, a third-year diagnostic radiology resident at UVA.
7:15 am – 8:00 am: Case Conference
It’s early, but we dive right in anyway. Dr. Hanley, the attending physician for the day, addresses the class of residents. He shows us a CT scan that reveals cystic changes in the lungs. It’s different than what we’ve seen before in a case. Everyone is a little nervous because we know Dr. Hanley is about to call on one of us to diagnose the case. He calls on me. I state the type of study the case is depicting, the most salient finding, the secondary findings, and a differential diagnosis.
I give what I believe is the most likely diagnosis. Dr. Hanley points out and discusses what I did correctly and incorrectly in arriving at my diagnosis. It’s nerve-wracking to be the one on the case, but it’s good to get me thinking on my feet and verbalizing my thought processes. These skills are vital because they help me communicate well with other providers in the hospital. From now on, when I see a case like this, I’ll keep Dr. Hanley’s diagnosis in my mind.
8:00 am – Noon: Clinical Service
I am assigned to my favorite Radiology Division: neuroradiology. I go to the neuroradiology reading room and begin to read X-rays, CTs, and MRIs of the brain, neck, and spine.
One case I look at is of a patient with metastatic cancer. This patient presented with stroke-like symptoms, and I see an infarct on the MRI. Dr. Matsumoto and Dr.
Muttikkal look at the case with me and we determine a clot in a vein caused the infarct. Afterwards, I consult with another group of doctors taking care of the patient and tell them what we found. Now they are able to make informed decisions about the patient’s care.
Other residents report to different divisions. For example, my friend Josh Smith goes to Breast Imaging today. He interprets and dictates mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs of the breasts for screening and diagnostic purposes. Having different residents work in different departments divides the responsibilities and optimizes patient care.
All residents are responsible for performing several other clinical duties throughout the day. We perform procedures, protocol studies, answer patients’ questions, communicate with other hospital personnel, and teach medical students. All before lunch.
Noon – 1:15 pm: Noon Conference
The noon conference is one of my favorite parts of the day. I get to see my fellow residents, and it’s nice to share part of the work day together. Plus, we eat lunch while we learn.
I’m eating a giant bowl of pasta with a glass of milk while looking at various bone tumors. Dr. Gaskin, one of our Musculoskeletal attending radiologists, presents a lecture on primary bone malignancies and how they might appear on X-ray, CT, and MRI. He gives us different tips on how to come to the correct diagnosis for each tumor. The entire lecture is interactive and engaging.
These daily lectures cover a wide variety of topics that help us improve on our daily clinical skills while also helping us prepare for future board exams. These daily pointers make us better radiologists so that when we’re looking at cases by ourselves we’re able to make the correct diagnosis.
1:15 – 5:00 pm: Clinical Service
It’s back to the Neuroradiology Division for me. My duties are the same, but it’s much busier this afternoon than in the morning. At this point, patients have had time to present to the Emergency Department. Other patients transfer in from other hospitals. We work hard to accurately and efficiently interpret all the ordered studies.
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Swing Shift
Tonight, my friend Nabeel and I do a swing shift together. This happens about once a week for every resident. During this time, two residents are “on call.” On call means that we interpret and dictate all imaging studies ordered during our shift.
We dictate studies ordered for the in-hospital patients and patients in the Emergency Department. It’s usually busy during this time.
Being on call is one of the more challenging parts of our training. We take pride in giving optimal care to our patients during this often stressful time. There are two paramount ways we care for our patients: First, we focus on our work and work quickly. Second, we make sure we constantly communicate with other hospital personnel. Working beside my fellow residents during this time pushes me to perform my best.
I’m the 1590 resident and Nabeel is the 1404 resident. This corresponds with the numbers on the pagers we carry. Each of us handles reading different types of images. As the 1590 resident, I read all the CTAs, CT chest, abdomen and pelvis scans, and ultrasounds. Nabeel reads radiographs (X-rays) and CTs of the brain and spine. We’re both in the same room, so we help each other. And of course, if we’re stuck, one of the Attending Radiologists is always available. Swing shift allows us a bit of autonomy, but assistance is readily available if we need it.
The swing shift has ended. The two residents on night float, Tim and Brian, come in to take over. Nabeel and I pass on any important information about anticipated nighttime studies. After that, the workday has officially ended. For me, it’s off to the gym to get some exercise. Afterwards, I eat dinner and do some supplementary reading on interesting cases I saw throughout the day.
Lastly, I drift off to sleep feeling lucky. Lucky to work alongside a fantastic team of fellow residents. Lucky to collaborate with knowledgeable attendings and personnel. Lucky to care for the patients at UVA.
A Day in the Life of a UVA Radiology Resident," and all accompanying images were developed by, and are the property of, the University of Virginia's Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging. It is reprinted in the ACR Bulletin by permission.
By Connor Louden, a third-year diagnostic radiology resident at UVA