March 14, 2022

Women in Radiology Spotlight: Q&A With Carolynn M. DeBenedectis, MD

Yara Younan, MD

Carolynn M. DeBenedectis, MD

Carolynn M. DeBenedectis, MD, is an Associate Professor of Radiology at the UMass Chan Medical School. She is a fellowship-trained women’s imager who specializes in breast imaging. She also serves as the Radiology Residency Program Director and Vice Chair for Education. Dr. DeBenedectis’ research interests include communications skills, patient- and family-centered care, diversity and inclusion, and healthcare disparities in radiology, with special focus on curriculum development for resident education.

What has been the most challenging part of your career?
The most challenging part has been balancing my home life with my clinical, academic and leadership roles at work. Being in academics though, with a great department chair, has allowed me to do that. Having flexibility with my academic/admin time has helped a lot as a parent. It meant I could take an hour or so out of that time to take my daughter to the doctor or a school concert, and then make up for it at night. Also, being able to occasionally work from home during that time meant that even if I was working all day, I could still tend to my daughter a bit. It made me feel much more balanced and present for my family.

Which personal characteristics have helped you succeed in your career the most, particularly in your leadership roles?
Being organized, efficient, goal oriented and decisive (being organized and efficient go hand in hand). I make a schedule, stick to it and don’t waste time. I make lots of lists and always have reminders in my calendar. I manage my email in an organized manner to stay on top of things: when I open an email, I try to take care of it right away and save it in a dedicated folder if need be. If I cannot deal with it then, I keep it in my inbox which I manage every morning and evening to resolve as many of these emails as possible. I am also very goal oriented. I make a list and a realistic timeline of everything I need to do to achieve my goals, and then I check them off one by one until they all get done. Lastly, I am decisive and confident in my decisions. I try not to waste time second guessing myself.

What initiative are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in radiology. Increasing diversity and inclusion can not only make radiology a better place for everyone but can help pave the way for more equity for our patients.

The number of female trainees in radiology remains subpar. In your opinion, how can radiology improve the recruitment of women and promote diversity and inclusion efforts?
We need to make our radiology departments more welcoming to female and underrepresented minority (URM) radiologists. Encourage flexibility in the workplace, ensure adequate mentorship and sponsorship for female and URM radiologists, and make sure women and URMs are represented in top leadership roles to help accomplish all of this.

What advice would you give to female trainees who are trying to establish themselves in a male-dominated field?
Surround yourself with positive female role models and mentors (and once you have succeeded, be these things for other women). Always remember you make great contributions to the field of radiology and do not let anyone ever make you feel otherwise.