Twenty years ago, in an article called “The Brand Called You,” Tom Peters popularized the term “personal branding.” In the article, Peters argues that today’s workers should use corporate branding principles to create their own personal brands — separate from their employer — to advance their careers. “You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description,” Peters wrote. “Starting today, you are a brand.”1 Although Peters writes about the corporate world, the principles he espouses have been — and continue to be — applied by successful professionals to build, strengthen, and even re-position reputations and careers.
“In a world with so much information that it seems like it’s easy for anyone to get a platform, it’s hard to stand out in the crowd,” says Samir B. Patel, MD, FACR, founder and director of the value management program at Radiology, Inc., in Mishawaka, Ind. “Telling your story in a crowded marketplace is going to be essential so that people can understand you and have a better appreciation of the value you bring.”
Standing Out in the Crowd
A personal brand is a composite of many parts in a radiologist’s professional life. In an age where work quality and digital footprints are measured more than ever before, it behooves radiologists to develop and curate their own individual brands in effective ways.2
According to Kimberly M. Beavers, MD, a breast imaging fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “A lot of people think that branding is selling yourself or your public image. However, the people in radiology who I’ve seen become the most successful are those who are authentic, vulnerable, imperfect, and have topics they are passionate about that make them who they are — things that strengthen a brand.”
“The basic question is: What makes you different?” says Patel. “You needed to stand out differently when you were in high school applying for college, in college applying for medical school, and in
medical school applying for residency. People think that when they leave residency they don’t need to continue differentiating themselves, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The degree of competition will continue to increase as more non-traditional providers enter the healthcare space.”
Making Your Mark in the Digital Space
Defining your brand and promoting your vision and quality standards have become as important to a radiologist’s future as keeping up with advancements in radiologic technology. In an age of growing social media presence among physicians and the existence of ever-expanding patient portals allowing access to radiologists’ reports, radiologists are present even where they may not know it — so why not take charge of the message?2
Developing a brand and the skills to be the go-to person for a particular focus — AI, research, or economics, for example — can really strengthen your leadership opportunities.
According to Beavers, as healthcare continues to become more and more patient-centered, patients are starting to become more educated about healthcare offerings.
“It’s totally a different world now for physicians and their brands,” she says. “My grandfather was an obstetrician in Oklahoma at a time when a doctor’s reputation was still based on patients’ feedback via word of mouth. Our healthcare system is much more complex now, and it’s difficult for doctors to show the public what makes them great.” According to Beavers, social media is especially key for radiologists who don’t have a regular clinic where they can build connections with their patients on a regular basis. “Social media channels allow radiologists to really get out there and show their value,” she says.
Both Patel and Beavers believe that personal branding is key to radiologists on their trajectory to leadership positions. “Branding is more important now than it used to be — especially for young and early career radiologists who are trying to move up the ladder,” says Patel.
Beavers agrees. “Developing a brand and the skills to be the go-to person for a particular focus — AI, research, or economics, for example — can really strengthen your leadership opportunities,” she says. “If your peers know, ‘Oh, she’s the one who’s always involved in radiology advocacy,’ then you become the expert in that topic by having that particular brand. You can open up a lot of doors for yourself by having a limited number of things that you are really passionate about, rather than trying to be the master of everything.”