Barbara Raphael’s first experience doing a nuclear medicine fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering so impressed her that she returned four years later to pursue a second fellowship in oncologic imaging, which she will complete in June 2012.
”The emphasis — and it comes from the very top — is on ensuring fellows receive the best possible education,” Dr. Raphael says. “I remember the director of my first program coming to our 7:00 am lectures to make certain the content was of the highest quality and was constantly being refreshed. It demonstrated to me how much everyone cares. It’s the same with [Director of Educational Programs in Radiology] Dr. Panicek — it’s very clear that his priority is teaching and making certain that every fellow is given the allotted time on each rotation in order to learn.” (Radiology fellows rotate at Memorial Sloan Kettering through various subspecialties with their own focus, such as breast imaging, liver imaging, and bone tumor imaging.)
She explains that the collaborative nature of the Center’s approach to patient care greatly enhances the fellowship experience. “The multidisciplinary approach here is refreshing and obviously benefits the patients,” Dr. Raphael says. “For example, if we find a lesion on a chest x-ray, everyone comes together — the pulmonologist, the surgeon, the medical oncologist — to review the image and the patient’s lab results and to discuss what it means. Fellows also have weekly conferences in which we present interesting cases, and attending physicians often will come to the conference to answer questions.”
”I like the challenge of oncologic imaging,” Dr. Raphael says. “It takes a special person to do cancer imaging because cases can be lengthy and complicated. But the rewards can be very satisfying. You can have a patient with a bad cancer who eventually responds to treatment and the scan will show no evidence of disease. It’s a great feeling.”
Like many Memorial Sloan Kettering fellows, Dr. Raphael hopes to someday continue her career at the Center. But she emphasizes that everyone who emerges from the fellowship program is equipped to excel at the practice of medicine and at doing research. “The training excellence starts from scratch, from the most basic things. They teach you the Memorial way, and it makes you a better physician wherever you may go.”