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Overcoming Burnout and Reshaping the Radiology Reading Experience

Dr. Michelle Goñi, a Musculoskeletal Radiologist, has been working from her home in Miami, Florida as a radiologist for over 15 years. Having spent most of her career reading emergent cases for hospitals across the country, she has since shifted to a more flexible work environment that allows her to dictate case types and volumes.

We sat down with Dr. Goñi to chat more about her journey reshaping the work-life routine. She shares her experience with burnout, due to long shifts and rapid turnaround times, and reveals how she now creates space to spend time with her family and do the things she loves outside of work.

[DocPanel] How did you learn about DocPanel? What attracted you to read on the DocPanel platform?

[Dr. Goñi] I learned about DocPanel through a good friend who also works for the company. I had been working for over 15 years in an emergency room-type environment, reading for several hospitals across the United States. Turnaround time for reports was relatively quick. Admittedly, I burned out after several years.

At DocPanel, I found an opposite environment. The radiologist is treated as a person, not as a number, and I feel like a member of a team. My schedule is now shaped to my preferences, and I am able to decide the pace that I want to read based upon what I have going on that week.

[DocPanel] In terms of case type – how did reading in an emergency room setting differ from reading on DocPanel? Do you have more autonomy to read cases within your specialty in one setting versus another?

[Dr. Goñi] In terms of case type, there were more emergent type cases such as trauma, strokes, pulmonary embolism, aortic dissections, acute surgical patients, etc. At DocPanel, there are more non-urgent non-emergent cases. There is definitely more autonomy to read within my specialty with outpatient studies at DP. There aren’t many emergent MSK cases. However, I have seen my share of emergent and urgent cases at DP and it is nice to have a mix of the two settings.

[DocPanel] Burnout is a global health problem affecting physicians across all medical specialties – what are some ways you manage stress and keep a balanced lifestyle?

[Dr. Goñi] Burnout is definitely a global health problem and sadly, we have lost too many physicians to suicide because of it. Personally, I feel that I burned out due to the immediate pressure demands of emergency room reads and working overnight shifts every other week for 15 years. I knew I needed a change. I finally decided to begin working part-time, which has provided me with time to focus on what I want at this stage in my life.

I use exercise as my main form to manage stress. I’m an avid Peloton user and have a small garage gym so that I can work out at home. There is nothing like endorphins to help with stress relief. I also like to travel with my husband and three sons, laugh with good friends, and just sit in my backyard to unwind. I love to write and hope to write a book one day! I focus a lot of my time on spirituality and strengthening my inner voice and mindset. I don’t believe in a “balanced lifestyle”. I believe that we should give the best of ourselves to what we can each day but we cannot give 100% to everything, every day. Something always gives. It just cannot be the same something giving each day. This is what I focus on. This is my “balance.”

[DocPanel] Can you tell us a bit about your journey practicing medicine? What was your inspiration to become a radiologist?

[Dr. Goñi] Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a doctor. I originally thought that I would be a pediatrician. However, once I began rotating different specialties in medical school, my interests started to change. Radiology was very complex and detailed. As a medical student, I found it challenging – so it was not something that I was immediately drawn to. But, as life would have it, I grew more and more curious about radiology and found it to be a specialty that suited my personality well: detailed and inquisitive.

Radiologists are such an integral part of the clinical team across so many specialties – as I became more aware of the role radiology plays in medicine, my attraction to the field grew and grew. It was also a specialty that would allow me to have a flexible schedule, which was (and is) important to me. For my entire professional career, I’ve worked in my home office in Miami as a teleradiologist. This has allowed me to be as present as possible for both my family and my career.

[DocPanel] Did you always know you wanted to specialize in musculoskeletal imaging?

[Dr. Goñi] I decided to sub-specialize in musculoskeletal imaging because it was a field that not only lacked women at the time but was also an area in radiology that was constantly evolving. I found it challenging and exciting. I have always been interested in the mechanics of motion and injury, so MSK imaging intrigued me. I knew that this was something that I could do well and, in turn, provide excellent patient care.

[DocPanel] What new developments within radiology are you most excited about?

[Dr. Goñi] Artificial intelligence is an exciting topic that is now frequently discussed. It’s been a helpful tool for radiology in the emergent setting, enabling us to deliver quicker reports and provide faster patient care because AI alerts us of potential positive findings. I’ve enjoyed working with AI-based technology and have found it an asset to the clinical team.

Dr. Michelle Goñi was raised in Long Island, New York. She attended Boston College where she completed her pre-medical studies and received a BA in English. She attended medical school and completed her Diagnostic Radiology residency in Puerto Rico. In 2005, she completed a fellowship in Musculoskeletal Radiology at the University of Miami. She is currently a Staff Radiologist at Rapid Radiology and a Consultant Radiologist for DocPanel.

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