What is one of your most memorable experiences with a patient?
Pictured from left to right are Jane Karimova, MD, Vandana Dialani, MD, Priscilla J. Slanetz, MD, MPH, Tejas S. Mehta, MD, MPH,
Sean Raj, MD, Rashmi Mehta, MD, Nancy Resteghini, MD, Valerie Fein-Zachary, MD, and Jordana Phillips, MD.
“So, how did you end up choosing to go into this field?” the kindergarten teacher, asked. And then she added, “And, by the way, how many of these procedures have you actually done?”
I had been asked these questions many times during residency, but not since I had been in practice. I had just finished our first tomosynthesis-directed core biopsy of an area of architectural distortion in the patient’s right breast. All had gone incredibly smoothly, considering my facility did not yet have the dedicated add-on biopsy device or the tomosynthesis biopsy software.
My answer to her was quite simple. I told her that becoming a breast imager certainly was not on my radar in kindergarten. I admitted to her that this was the first time we had actually done this specific procedure at our facility, although I had done multiple similar biopsies over the course of my career. She appreciated my honesty. I called her the next day to convey the biopsy results — unfortunately, positive for cancer, which meant she would need a mastectomy. But instead of being upset, she thanked me for being creative and making it possible for her to move forward with her care. We must always remember that it is our job to find a way to get the answers — the lives of our patients depend on us to do so.