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Why Interventional Radiology?

Updated: Sep 20, 2019

Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering what specialty you should choose? Then SheMD's Why Specialty Series is perfect for you! We're bringing you female physicians sharing WHY they chose their specialty. Today's post is on why Dr. Solberg chose the field of Vascular & Interventional Radiology and why IR is a great field for all, INCLUDING women!

Vascular and Interventional Radiology is a male dominated field with fewer than 10% women, on par with specialties like Neurosurgery, Vascular Surgery, and Orthopedics. I am often asked why I went into Vascular & Interventional Radiology and I often struggle to answer. Diagnostic Radiology is a great field for women (and men) secondary to flexible schedules, variable patient contact, ability to work from home, and intellectual rewards. Although there is a broad spectrum of Vascular & Interventional Radiology practices, most resemble a surgery-type workflow and have a more intense call requirement compared to Diagnostic Radiology careers. The main impetus for me to apply for Vascular & Interventional Radiology fellowship was my desire to increase patient contact and also perform a large variety of procedures. I am never bored at work due to the broad spectrum of our practice… a typical day can include peripheral arterial disease intervention, spinal augmentation for vertebral body fracture, tumor ablation, and treatment of venous disease. On call I can see a GI bleed, ruptured AAA, liver laceration, or acute stroke. This, of course, in addition to the bread and butter Interventional Radiology cases like venous access (ports etc), biopsies, and drain placement/management. Our patient mix is also very broad from neonates to geriatric patients. I absolutely loved my Diagnostic Radiology residency and could not imagine myself doing anything else, until my first Interventional Radiology block. About one week into my first Interventional Radiology block, I decided to apply for fellowship. The technologists and nurses at University Medical Center in El Paso, TX were top notch and I immediately felt welcome in the Interventional Radiology family. Our Interventional Radiology family at St. A's is just as close-knit and amazing. Everyone works with the same goal in mind - to provide top notch medical care to our patients, with the compassion and respect they deserve. I absolutely love going to work every day! The struggles of being a woman physician, especially in a male dominated field like Interventional Radiology, are certainly real, but should not dissuade any woman from going into any field. Many organizations are available to help women who run into issues: RadiologyChicks, AAWR, SheMD, BraveEnough just to name a few. Many organizations now have women sections - Women in Interventional Radiology section of the Society of Interventional Radiology has made tremendous strides in increasing female speakers during conferences, advocating for women, and increasing awareness about gender bias. So I'm still not 100% sure why Vascular & Interventional Radiology. Since being a little girl, I have wanted to accomplish things that I wasn't allowed to do, was told I could not do, or that were for boys. So instead of tennis, I played rugby. I learned to snowboard before it was cool for girls. I joined the Army. It's unclear to me why when a rad chief resident told me I was too stupid to be a radiologist, it took me 5 years to realize that it wasn't true. Luckily, when someone told me that Vascular & Interventional Radiology wasn't a field for women, I did NOT believe them. Vascular & Interventional Radiology is an exciting growing field for anyone! Don't let anyone persuade you otherwise.

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