How can you be endlessly fascinated by your work as a physician? Here are some examples from my life as an interventional radiologist that others in the procedural and surgical fields may relate to.
By looking into someone, a radiologist sees how one has lived their life– from cerebral atrophy to fatty liver and osteoarthritis, many of these processes are a function of a person’s lifestyle. Too much alcohol or multiple strokes can cause brain atrophy. Obesity, poor diet, and alcohol can cause fatty liver…
Osteoarthritis can come from past trauma, or from years of carrying around excess weight.
I think, how does this 90 year old have a brain that looks like someone decades younger? And I look for ways I can improve my own reserve, should I live that long myself. I think about keeping my weight in a healthy range, and moving my body, so I keep my joints strong, but don’t expose them to excess wear and tear. Being familiar with the range of what people’s insides look like is very motivating. I want my own health to last!
It’s a rare privilege to see someone from the inside, in a way many others can’t. It’s really a super power. It takes 4 years of residency to learn these skills– to learn imaging of the body in different modalities from head to toe. Although other specialists learn imaging in their respective areas, they still need our help. Radiologists and interventional radiologists work closely with oncologists, surgeons, emergency docs, hospitalists, and many more. That’s why they call us “the doctor’s doctor.”
Lately, I seem to have seen a lot of superlatives in my practice. It has surprised me that six years into practice, I can still be shocked by what I find when I open a study. For instance, I recently saw the largest pulmonary artery I’ve ever seen, as it took on the appearance of a rounded cardiac chamber more than a typical tubular structure. Just recently, I opened a comparison image to see the largest appendiceal mucocele I have ever seen. Just the other day, there was the most massive liver I’ve seen in the setting of a Riedel lobe and fatty infiltration.
It’s not just the largest things that fascinate me in my daily work, but a cute appendix filled with enteric contrast, which unexpectedly twirles in front of my eyes as a walk through a patient’s images. In the range of normal anatomy, developmental anomalies and acquired pathologies, the work is endlessly fascinating and professionally gratifying.
Beyond diagnosing disease, it’s a privilege to share these images with patients so they can see their own insides! I do this during consultations for fibroids, filter removals, etc. In this way, I can explain for example, why a woman with a fibroid uterus needs to run to the restroom more frequently, or how the position of the fibroid within the uterus affects her monthly cycle. This can deepen a patient’s understanding and appreciation for what’s happening inside. By meeting the patient where they are, I am engaged by my work all over again.
When you apply the skills I describe to procedures, it’s even more stealthy.
That’s why I love sharing my career story and what it looks like behind the scenes as a woman in IR. There are many procedurally-oriented fields and surgical subspecialties that remain male-dominated, so some women may dismiss them, or think they can’t excel there. But the truth is, these careers are challenging and multi-faceted for anyone who’d pursue them.
Unfortunately, even in 2020, some women shy away from these fascinating fields. That’s why I’m still talking about it.
It was my privilege to join Dr. David Draghinas on the Doctors Unbound Podcast to discuss my blog and mission. His podcast is about ALL the things doctors can be- from coaches and business owners to podcasters and beyond! Doctors are an industrious, multi-faceted group. So a couple months ago, I pitched the idea for an episode together: doctors unbound by gender stereotypes.
I had so much fun connecting with the host, Dr. Draghinas. He is an awesome guy, not only for supporting women in male-dominated fields through this episode. Through his podcast, he encourages physicians at large to break out of the sometimes limiting expectations placed on us. He encourages us to find other passions, and get what we really want out of life!
To see the guide to our episode together, click here.
You can listen on this page, or anywhere you get your podcasts. It’s episode number 147 of Doctors Unbound with Dr. David Draghinas.
Let me know what you think of our chat!
And if you want to learn more about learning to take on a leadership position in our cultural milieu, check out my audio recording called “Being Nice… As a Boss Lady.” Even as you’re endlessly fascinated by your work, you can learn to lead your team to greater heights with the mindset I describe.
Now go have a listen! And please share this with a friend who needs it today.
The path can be riddled with failures, even if you're doing it right. In this recording, I share some of my gaffes with you.