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X-ray vision for next gen - Dr Murray Bartlett reflects on his career as a paediatric radiologist

Karen Burge
Med J Aust
Published online: 15 April 2013

Melbourne-based paediatric radiologist Dr Murray Bartlett trained as a paediatric physician before making a career switch to radiology. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the discipline and to those he mentors, and enjoys the variety in his rewarding career

What is your current role? I’m employed as a radiologist in both the public (Royal Children’s Hospital [RCH], Melbourne) and private (I-Med Victoria) sectors. I report plain films, perform ultrasounds and report computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, as well as perform simple radiological interventions, such as joint injections and epidural injections. At the RCH I participate in a number of clinical meetings each week and am actively involved in teaching radiology registrars and fellows. I also encourage the fellows to be involved with research and over the years we have published papers and submitted work to many Australian and overseas meetings.

How did your career in radiology begin? Radiology for me began in Perth after I moved there from Melbourne to do paediatric medicine. I had completed 5 years of physician training as well as sitting the physician specialist exams. I enjoyed the medicine and interacting with the families. I also performed newborn retrievals in West Australian country locations with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

I was always interested in radiology and toward the end of my paediatric training I felt I needed a change of direction. At the time you worry about the perceived extra time needed to commit to a career change but that thought has faded quickly. I trained in the West Australian radiology scheme, which was a great experience and I gained many friends as I trained. The consultants who trained me left a lasting impression with their commitment to quality in reporting and keeping up to date in knowledge and professional standards.

I moved from Perth to Sydney so I could complete a paediatric radiology fellowship at Westmead Children’s Hospital for one year, then moved to Melbourne to complete an MRI fellowship. From there I was appointed as a senior staff specialist at the RCH and also practised 2 days a week providing paediatric radiology services in private.

What inspired you to specialise in paediatric radiology? My background in paediatric medicine was ideally suited to a subspecialisation in pediatric radiology and has helped me immensely with interactions with clinicians.

What are the challenges of your role? Work–life balance. I’ve been married for 18 years and we have twin four and a half-year-old boys who keep us very busy. Professionally the challenge is to get through the routine daily work but at the same time teach our registrars and fellows to a high standard.

What do you enjoy most? The fascinating case mix. For example, one minute I will be analysing a skeletal dysphasia or bone tumour, the next I’ll be participating in a tertiary orthopaedic meeting reviewing all the interesting surgical cases, then injecting patients’ joints for paediatric arthritis — all in a day.

Who is your mentor and why? As radiologists we do not have a mentor as such, but throughout my career I’ve found that you try and take on board characteristics in others that you like and try and avoid the characteristics that you may find counterproductive. For example, I have found humility a fantastic asset in a number of senior doctors whom I have worked with.

What are you most proud of in your career to date? I’m proud to have completed 5 years of clinical paediatric medicine before I started radiology. This has helped greatly in maturing me for a career in radiology and the experience I gained on the wards and in clinics is used in my radiology life every day.

What do you most enjoy about mentoring others? Imparting the knowledge you have accumulated over the years challenges you to think and to stay up to date when the doctor you are mentoring challenges you. After spending lots of time together you become friends and even after they have finished you keep in touch whether they are based locally, interstate, or overseas.

  • Karen Burge


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