Career reflections

Requiem for a radiologist

Eugene Tryciecky, DO, shares a thoughtful retrospection on his career as a radiologist, which spanned nearly four decades and saw innumerable medical advancements.


I rose from my chair in my home office, logged off the computer and passed the hallway mirror. The stooped posture, braces on my wrists and elbows, tear duct plugs, trifocals on my face and computer glasses dangling from my neck told only part of the story.

There were bilateral carpal tunnel surgeries, bilateral ulnar tunnel surgeries, two herniated lumbar discs, severe osteoarthritis of the neck and more. “It’s time,” the reflection said—but the team needed me. NFL (Not For Long)? No, RAD (Read All Day).

After nearly 37 years as a practicing radiologist, I decided to retire. It wasn’t a hard decision; it was a matter of fact, like turning off the lights in an empty room or throwing out an old pair of sneakers. To understand the end, you have to start at the beginning: Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, 1971.

Early ambitions

“A film director or a doctor,” I answered my guidance counselor when asked what I wanted to be. “It’s a thousand times easier to be a doctor than a successful film director,” he replied. After undergrad, I followed his advice and attended the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, completing an arduous three-year program in 1979. A rotating internship, a year of an emergency medicine residency and a year of practicing family medicine followed.

During a grueling night shift in the ER, I treated a dozen children involved in a bus accident. The next morning, I double-checked my X-ray interpretations with the radiologist. Sitting in the dark, I made a decision. It wasn’t hard; it was a matter of fact, like throwing out an old pair of sneakers. I was going to be a radiologist. After applying to Botsford Osteopathic Hospital (now called Corewell Health Farmington Hills), I was accepted into the three-year radiology residency in 1982.

New skills and technology

“This residency is an apprenticeship. You learn by doing,” said the department chair on my first day. And, for the next three years, boy did I learn—by doing … and doing … and doing. At the start of my residency, there was no CT at our hospital. The residents developed their skills at interpreting plain film, ultrasound and nuclear medicine studies and performing fluoroscopy, hysterosalpingography, venography, angiography and breast needle localizations.

Then came CT: a game changer. It allowed for quick and accurate diagnosis in emergency departments, especially efficacious for trauma patients. Its uses are myriad, and it can evaluate stroke and chest pain, and can screen, detect and evaluate treatment response for cancer, among other things.

To be able to exquisitely image someone without radiation was revolutionary and I wanted to be a part of it. In 1988, I was accepted into a coveted MRI fellowship at Michigan State University. I stayed at MSU for over a decade, first as an assistant professor, then as an associate professor. In addition to patient care, I also taught radiology, not only to residents, but also to medical students in my radiology class. During my term, the class became mandatory for the two medical schools, becoming the first completely online class in their curriculum.

Private practice called and I returned to Botsford Hospital, where I witnessed the installation of three multislice CT scanners: faster scans, better diagnoses, many more images and more time spent reading cases. In 2020 I came back to MSU and was appointed the section chief of body imaging, a position I held till my retirement.

Lessons learned

Life is a harsh teacher—it gives the test first, then the lesson. What are the lessons I learned? “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” I can’t say the second part of the quote is necessarily true (I often worked 12-hour days), but I agree with the first part. Do what you love. And do it to the best of your ability. Strive for perfection.

Like coach Lombardi said: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” Contribute to society. What can be a greater contribution than caring for people? Accept others and learn to forgive. Forgive yourself. You are fallible. The practice of medicine is complex. Bad things happen. 

Be forthright in your reports and in your communications with physicians and patients. Your word is your bond. Never stop learning. Your patients demand it. Teach others. “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn,” said the musician Phil Collins. 

Don’t shy away from new technologies but embrace them. Don’t be pessimistic about the future of our young physicians, some of whom you may be training. They are growing up in this health care morass and will adapt, learn to navigate and flourish. Nurture them. They are our future.

At times, like your children, they may not respect you. Forgive them. Stay closely connected with your family. Participate in their activities. They are your support system. Develop interests outside of medicine. A time will come when you too will put down the Rod of Asclepius. 

Enjoying new (and old) interests

It was a supreme privilege to have practiced medicine, taught radiology and had the honor of taking care of patients. There is life after retirement. Things have come full circle for me. God has granted me the chance to follow my second passion. Although I won’t be a successful movie director, I do review movies on my website, shoot movie reviews for my YouTube channel in my home studio and am pursuing a certificate in photography. I know this for certain—tomorrow will not be like today.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

Retiring from medicine: Knowing when it’s time to get out

The Balentine dream: How this DO takes on both a demanding career and a goat farm


  1. Susan E. Roubal

    Tough to leave, when you really love what you do and see; but physical disability has a way of convincing you, even if it’s too soon.

    I truly loved the exquisite detail of CTs and MRIs in children. I found a way of transferring that love of detail into painting. It is heartening that there is indeed, life after medicine!

  2. John Becker, DO

    Great summary of career in radiology. This week completes my 33rd in practice. My residency was similar, “learn by doing”, of course with supervision. More importantly, it taught me how to interact with patients, staff, and clinicians, face to face. A lesson that I fear is loss in the era of telemedicine. It is those interactions that have made for me a successful and gratifying career.

  3. Tri Pham

    It’s a beautiful reflection of your career, Dr. Tryciecky! I can sense the honor, love and grace above. Congratulations!

  4. David Marsh

    Thanks for sharing this amazing post! “Requiem for a Radiologist” is a phrase that could evoke a sense of reflection and tribute to the life and work of a radiologist who has passed away. A requiem is a musical composition or memorial service traditionally performed for the deceased, often expressing mourning and respect.
    This phrase could be used in a eulogy, tribute, or memorial to honor the radiologist’s legacy and the impact they had on the field of radiology and the lives of those they served.

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