December 16, 2019

Kickstarting My Career

By Atheeth Hiremath, MD, is a past RLI Kickstart Your Career attendee, Maryland Radiological Society’s RFS president, and a resident in the department of radiology at the University of Maryland.

In my first year as a radiology resident, I was fortunate to have attended the RLI Kickstart Your Career event. Although I wondered whether I would benefit from this program as a first-year resident, my doubts were unfounded as I interacted with several other first-year residents in attendance. Additionally, faculty members and senior residents welcomed our participation and encouraged our early interest in shaping our future careers.

The Kickstart Your Career event is a one-day program held at DoubleTree Hotel in Silver Spring, Md. While the program schedule looks jam-packed, it is expertly curated to balance lectures with interactive sessions. Additionally, there are timely breaks interspersed throughout the day which provide ample opportunity for informal networking. 

For me, one of the highlights of the event was the career panel where academic radiologists and private practice radiologists discussed their career paths. While I have attended similar career panels addressing the question of “academics vs. private practice”, I found this panel to be unique in that the junior and senior faculty were not limited to discussing the pros and cons of their chosen careers. Instead, they were encouraged to share their own stories of how they ended up shaping their careers. As one would suspect, it was the rare faculty member who knew exactly which career trajectory would become their final destination. Most faculty cited timely circumstances and influential mentors who guided their decisions. Hearing these varied experiences provided a relief to many residents, who at times feel they have to make an early and rigid decision about one pathway or the other. Additionally, it was refreshing to hear both private practice and academic radiologists have a frank discussion with the audience about the drawbacks of their practice environments. At the end of the session, I really felt that I had obtained a more nuanced answer to the question of “academics or private practice?”

Additionally, there was a lunch talk by Dr. Lawrence Muroff about employment contracts and evaluating job offers. Judging by the number of residents that were taking notes during the session, it was clear that he was providing invaluable exposure to an important part of the job search process, that is often underexposed in the traditional residency curriculum.

Following the talk, there were mock interviews with the faculty members, and I had the pleasure of observing senior residents being interviewed by Dr. Peter Van Geertruyden, an active member of the armed forces and a radiologist at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. He provided a concise summary of what employers are looking for in a job interview, and he was able help the residents formulate a 30-second pitch that encapsulated their best qualities and traits. At the end of the session, he was generous enough to provide his contact information, and encouraged us to keep in touch.

Following the mock interviews, there were multiple lectures about the finer art of interviewing and communicating effectively. Among the many wonderful talks, Dr. Frank Lexa’s talk about “interviewing for success” was notable for its numerous practical suggestions, which he had gleaned from years of mentoring and interacting with Wharton Business school students in his role as adjunct faculty.

Without any reservations, I recommend residents to take advantage of this opportunity from the RLI. Whether you are a junior resident or fellow, there is always something that you can take away from this event.