by Natosha Monfore, DO, PGY-3, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
Dr. Anne Roberts is this quarter’s Women in IR Spotlight for being an innovator and leader in the field of Interventional Radiology.
Dr. Roberts started her education as a history major at University of California, Los Angeles. She then obtained a Masters in History at UCLA. Rather than continuing with her PhD program, she took a leave of absence and did some traveling and working before deciding that maybe medicine would be a good career. After completing her premedical classes at Stanford University, Dr. Roberts earned her medical degree at the University of California, San Diego. She completed an internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, a residency in Diagnostic Radiology and a clinical fellowship in Vascular Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. Following her fellowship, Dr. Roberts returned to UCSD as an assistant professor of radiology. In 1993, Dr Roberts became the first chief of radiology at UCSD Thornton Hospital and in 1996 she transitioned into her current role as the Chief of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at UCSD and the San Diego VA.
Along her journey, Dr. Roberts spent a year working at the Food and Drug Administration in the Division of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Neurological Devices in the Center for Devices and Radiologic Health. During that time, she was involved in evaluating medical devices prior to them coming to market. Following this sabbatical, Dr. Roberts was appointed to serve on the FDA’s Circulatory Systems Devices Panel.
Dr. Roberts has been involved in multiple organizations during her career. She has been very active in the Society of Interventional Radiology and was elected the President of the Society. She was elected to the ACR’s Council Steering Committee and served on the American Board of Radiology. In 2009, she was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the American College of Radiology. She has also served the ACR as Secretary-Treasurer, and is currently Vice President of the ACR. Dr. Roberts was recently selected to be the first Associate Director for Interventional Radiology for the American Board of Radiology.
In addition, Dr. Roberts has been awarded honorable titles within various professional societies. She is a Fellow of the ACR and of the Society of Interventional Radiology. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe. In 2004 she delivered the SIR Annual Scientific Meeting Dr. Charles T. Dotter Lecture, an annual honor bestowed for extraordinary career achievement and contributions to the specialty. Most recently, Dr. Roberts was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2015 SIR Annual Scientific meeting.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Roberts for this month’s Women in IR spotlight article. Her passion for IR, and desire to help others including training residents and fellows has shaped her undeniably successful career.
How did you get into the field of Interventional Radiology?
After doing an internship in OB/GYN, I found that I didn’t like having to worry about patients in labor. However, I did love the surgery aspect, and probably would have gone into GYN Oncology if I had stayed in OB/GYN. During my intern year, I had already been accepted into radiology (this was before radiology went through the match) so I decided that maybe I would like radiology better. I started radiology with chest and neuroradiology and was not sure that I had made the right decision to leave OB/GYN. I really missed patient care and patient contact. But then I did GI and really enjoyed doing barium studies because you actually got to make the pictures, not just interpret them. I also got to do non-vascular cases with Peter Mueller, and I loved those cases. Then I did Vascular Radiology at the end of my 1st year; there was no question in my mind that Vascular Radiology was going to be my career!
What do you consider to be your top 3 accomplishments?
- Getting over stage fright
- Training very talented residents and fellow
- Getting back in good physical shape
Are there certain characteristics you look for in a resident that helps you “know” that resident will be a talented fellow?
I think talented fellows have some characteristics that make them particularly good. First, they have a passion for IR. If you are not passionate about doing IR, it becomes clear pretty quickly. They are good at visualization in 3D. When they look at a patient, they make the connection between the surface characteristics of the patient, and the inner area where they are working. Thus they can visualize what they are trying to accomplish. Also, they like working with their hands, and prefer to be moving around rather than sitting! Talented fellows have good tactile sense, so that when they are working with instruments they have a sense of how the instrument is behaving. Also talented fellows like working with people. IR is a team sport, and good fellows are able to get everyone on the team working together (techs, nurses, patients, attendings, referring physicians, etc). Lastly, they spend time reading so that they really understand what they are doing during the procedures and why they are doing it.
To what or whom do you owe your success?
- My teachers – Christos Athanasoulis, Art Waltman, Stuart Geller, and Peter Mueller
- My parents and my brothers
- My husband
- The talented and generous group of colleagues who have been so supportive of my outside activities.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
Trying to find a balance between work and non-working life.
What keeps you inspired in medicine?
Did you always want to be a teacher?
Initially I went to college with the idea that I was going to be a teacher. I took a lot of education classes in college, and did some teaching in an elementary school, but thought that what was being expected of teachers was not realistic in terms of what children did when they left the classroom (lots of TV watching etc.). I was encouraged by one of my professors to get a PhD in history. After getting as far as my masters, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to have to write books and lots of papers, etc, so I started to think of what I really wanted to do. Long story, but short answer is that I always liked teaching.
How do you maintain a balanced lifestyle?
Not very well. But I have been slowly learning that sometimes I just can’t do everything, and if I don’t take care of my body by exercising, I am not much use to anyone.
What advice do you have for women who are junior to you?
- Have fun!
- Get involved – Hospital committees, national committees, etc. The more that you are involved, the more interesting life is, and the more meaningful it is.
- Marry well! Having a supportive husband really helps!