We sat down for a great chat with Nazia Jafri, M.D., a Breast Imaging Fellow and recent residency graduate from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and member of the RSNA News Editorial Board. Here’s what she had to say about making early career moves that count.
Early in residency, as you’re exposed to different imaging modalities and subspecialties, keep an open mind. Dr. Jafri recommends trying to gain exposure to as many radiologic subspecialty fields as possible by participating in special tracks your residency may offer, like mini-fellowships, and attending tumor board and multidisciplinary conferences. This may help you figure out what you’re drawn to clinically and make fellowship and career choices a lot easier. By the way, RSNA’s Fellowship Connect, developed by residents for residents, is a great resource to search available positions across the United States.
Apply for a fellowship or job in an area where you feel a strong personal or intellectual interest. “I chose breast imaging because I enjoyed working directly with patients,” said Dr. Jafri. “As a resident, I remember always looking forward to that rotation. I liked establishing a personal connection with the patients and helping facilitate their treatment process.”
Having a passion for patients—and for the influence you have on patient care—reflects the philosophy of the late Gary Glazer, M.D., who was revered as a pioneer in bringing radiologists to the forefront of healthcare and the public eye. His article, “The Invisible Radiologist,” is a must-read for everyone pursuing a career in radiology. Find it here.
Dr. Jafri strongly encourages attending radiology conferences as a trainee. Both residents and fellows often receive either free or discounted rates for conferences, which are always educational—and often happen in a fun location. And, of course, you should never miss an opportunity to take advantage of your free registration to the RSNA annual meeting in Chicago and its huge offering of subspecialty tracks. Conferences are an ideal way to stay up-to-date, learn about new technology, and seize opportunities to network with your colleagues.
Having a mentor, whether your program director, a faculty member, or a more senior resident or fellow, is important, says Dr. Jafri. These relationships will help you throughout your career. “I found my residency program directors and mentors to be invaluable, not only in helping navigate the training process, but in making fellowship decisions and career choices,” she says. Dr. Jafri writes more about mentorship here.
Consider applying for grants. Even smaller grant awards can jumpstart your career and lend you recognition and publication, spurring additional grants. RSNA R&E Foundation grants, for instance, carry a 30:1 return in subsequent funding from other sources like the NIH, NIBIB, and NCI. They’re available to members at various stages, at the trainee, junior faculty, and faculty levels, and can support a variety of projects, ranging from pilot research to innovative learning software. See how R&E grants have launched some prestigious careers here.
You can also apply for RSNA’s research and grantwriting workshops, which can guide you through the process of writing successful proposals for obtaining funding.
Even if you’re not seeking an academic career, publication in prestigious journals and presentations at conferences can help you develop important skills that you’ll use later on in your career. The Call for Abstracts is open now for RSNA 2013, and the editors of Radiology have some tips for getting published in the journal. Dr. Jafri also recommends this book by Mimi Zeger, who teaches a course at UCSF on topics like scientific writing, tip on getting published and successful presentation skills.
1. Be an active member of your community.
Membership and participation in radiological societies, like RSNA, get you exposed to what’s currently happening in your field and what’s on the horizon. RSNA offers the tools, research, education, and grants you need to jumpstart your career, maintain your professional edge, and connect with the radiology community. Committee membership and leadership positions can be a very rewarding experience and expose you to different aspects of your field. Professional organizations and institutions are always happy to have the time and talents of their members, and with multiple initiatives throughout an organization, there’s a position to fit your area of expertise.
Don’t be shy about taking advantage of the community you’re part of as an RSNA member. We’re here to help you succeed. RSNA thanks Dr. Jafri for her insight and time. Have more ideas to contribute? Share them with the RSNA Facebook and Twitter communities, or give us a buzz: Buzz@rsna.org.