March 14, 2022

IR/DR Training Pathway: The Decision to Pursue a Career in Private Practice

Emilio Cazano, MD

When I was deciding to pursue a career in interventional radiology (IR), there was a paradigm shift in the training curriculum and philosophy of the fellowship/residency. The philosophy of becoming a true clinician evolved into IR becoming its own specialty, requiring a separate curriculum and adding clinic shifts and rotations on other specialty services (i.e., vascular surgery and ICU). When applying to programs, it was important to me to select those with Early Specialization in Interventional Radiology (ESIR) and an independent residency. I was lucky enough to match in a program that would offer all three pathways: integrated, independent and ESIR.

The new training focus on clinical rotations provides interventional radiologists (IRs) coming into the workforce with the tools and skills to run a clinic, round on the floor, manage patient clinical outcomes and build a service. IRs are no longer proceduralists who receive orders from the referring teams; they are clinically minded IRs who receive consults and see patients at the bedside. This new curriculum allows IRs to practice as true clinicians without losing diagnostic skills.

I chose this specialty because of all of this and more. It is my dream to provide innovative, effective and minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic alternatives that decrease morbidity, mortality and the overall cost of care. This is the true mission of IR.

I chose to pursue a career in private practice because of the various pathways available for this wave of IRs. Some careers include outpatient-based labs (OBLs), “Privademics” (research-based path), rural generalist, 100% subspecialist, hospital based, or “sancocho” (your own concoction). The beauty of a career in private practice is it can be tailored to your desires, within reason.

The most important piece of advice I can give to someone on the path to becoming an IR is to choose a practice model and community you believe will make you happy in life and work. It is important to choose a job for more than just money, location or job satisfaction. Find the best combination for you. You’ve worked most of your life to reach this point. Now is the time to enjoy the fruits of your hard work and dedication.

I chose private practice because I always saw myself as a complete radiologist, using my expertise in diagnostic imaging and image-guided procedures. I chose a rural community that is not near a large academic institution; it is also where I grew up and consider home. I wanted to come back to my community and provide high-level expertise to patients who would otherwise have to travel for hours to receive the same services. I know the patient population, so they are near and dear to my heart.

Always remember your “why” and you will remain motivated and happy. Also, your first job doesn’t have to be your forever job. If your motivations or desires change, that is okay. You will have the skills after training in this new curriculum to work in a variety of settings of your choosing.