Transforming Ambitions into Real-World Achievement


The inaugural ACR YPS virtual book club meeting took place on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, as a jointly sponsored event by the YPS and the Women in Radiology Facebook group. The book chosen was How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. This was an apt choice, as many of us want to know more about how to transform our ambitions into real-world achievement. We addressed the book’s subheading of the 12 habits that may hold women back in their careers, focusing on how these apply to early careers in radiology. The event moderators, Agnieska Solberg, MD, and YPS Social Media Liaison Taj Kattapuram, MD, are both current YPS members and led an in-depth, thoughtful, and engaging discussion.

Participants readily identified each of the habits outlined in the book. And reading about these habits developed both an awareness of their impact as well as a strategy for how to make modifications. The following is a recap some of the discussion:

Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions: In addition to breaking this habit for yourself, you can also help others from falling into this trap. Lead by example and encourage others to let their voices be heard. For example, even a small gesture of encouragement for a trainee to speak up can go a long way in establishing the confidence to do so, both in that moment and, more importantly, in the future.

Building rather than leveraging relationships: While it may seem shallow to choose friends based on their utility as an ally, ACR RFS-YPS Liaison Amy K. Patel, MD, raised the important point that an ally and a friend are both important but do not have to be the same person. An ally relationship can be purely transactional and nothing more. When it comes to enlisting allies, Kimberly Beavers, MD, recommended looking at women who inspire you and reaching out to them. The friends around you will represent in part both the person that you are and the person you will become. So, surround yourself with those who reflect your values and can help you become who you want to be.

Disease to please: When struck with a difficult decision where someone will end up unhappy, Solberg recommended making the decision that is best for the patient, knowing that not everyone will be happy about it, and being able to let it go.

Minimizing: This behavior is rooted in an awareness of other people’s needs and the wish to show them that you value their presence and insights. However, use caution when it comes to being interrupted in a professional meeting, where others might take over the conversation. If cut off, Solberg recommended addressing the person directly by name, saying, “Excuse me, I was speaking... please let me finish my thought.” This is also a time where having your allies in the room will empower you and potentially someone else in the same circumstance in the future. Try to identify those trying to speak but who are not assertive enough to do so to make sure all voices are heard.

Ruminating: Let it go. Whatever happened during a meeting, procedure, or exam, just learn from it and move forward.

Letting go of these habits was outlined in four steps:

  • Choosing a behavior
  • Enlisting allies in your effort to modify the behavior,
  • Letting go of judgment
  • Remembering what got you here

Realizing that the behaviors are actually rooted in positive character attributes is reassuring. We don’t have to compromise who we are to improve.

To learn and reflect on all 12 habits, pick up the book. As we learned in our discussion, these habits can also apply to men. As a final token of encouragement, Kattapuram referenced the portion of the book stating that functional MRI has demonstrated that the brain has the capacity to establish new neural pathways at every stage of life. So, no matter what stage of life or career applies to you, there is hope.

Thank you to all of those who participated in the first YPS book club and for the thoughtful discussion and advice. We hope to do the book club on a quarterly basis in the future and look forward to you taking part to make your voice heard.

By ACR YPS Communications Liaison David C. Mihal, MD


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