by Natosha Monfore, D.O., University of Oklahoma, PGY-4
Dr. Meridith Englander is this quarter’s Women in IR Spotlight for being a leader and innovator in the field of Interventional Radiology.
Dr. Englander received her undergraduate education at Smith College in Northampton, MA and University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. She attended Albany Medical College in 1993 and graduated Cum Laude in 1997. From there Dr. Englander completed an internship in orthopedic surgery and a residency in radiology at Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY. In 2002, she moved to Boston, MA where she completed a fellowship in Vascular and Interventional Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Following fellowship, Dr. Englander returned to Albany, NY where she practices in a private practice that is affiliated with an academic facility.
Throughout her career Dr. Englander has been dedicated to innovation and research. She has published many articles in numerous journals including the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology and the American Journal of Roentgenology. In addition to her scholarly activities, Dr. Englander has been a mentor for residents, fellows and medical students, and an advocate for the field of IR. In 2015, Dr. Englander and a few other interventionalists worked in conjunction with the Society of Interventional Radiology to form the Women in Interventional Radiology section. Dr. Englander is very active in building a strong foundation for the future of IR. Her most recent accomplishment occurred at the 2016 annual meeting in Vancouver, BC where she became a Fellow in the Society of Interventional Radiology. Her passion for mentorship, shaping the future of IR, and innovation makes Dr. Englander this quarter’s Women in IR spotlight.
How did you get into IR?
As you can see from the very brief bio you provided, I did not follow a direct path into IR. I had been thinking about medical school since I was in middle school. I got diverted during my junior and senior years in college. I was very involved in student government and I thought that I might pursue a career in policy and possibly law. I took a few years off before medical school and worked for the New York State Division of the Budget where I was an analyst on the outpatient Medicaid budget. One of the big projects we worked on was calculating the impact of the Clinton health care plan on New York State in 1993. It was a great experience because I got a little insight into the political environment in which health care policy is set.
It was after working in state government for a few years that I realized that I really did want to be a physician. When I did get to medical school, I was pretty sure that I would go into orthopedic surgery. I worked hard for that but unfortunately, when I did match in ortho, I realized it was not what I had imagined it to be. I was not happy so after a year, I left ortho and took an open spot in radiology even though I had not even done a rotation in it during medical school. This is definitely not an ideal way to select a career. However, lucky for me, I found IR. My attendings knew about my surgical background and thus actively encouraged me to think about IR. I had great mentors and my experience as a resident was fantastic. I loved the procedures and the camaraderie in the IR suites.
What is a typical day for you?
Each day for me is different. Our practice is private, but we are affiliated with a teaching hospital and medical school. I work at the academic medical center as well as at two different community hospitals. Our outpatient office is based at our freestanding imaging center and I am there one day a week. In my practice, I focus on venous interventions, but I do general IR most of the time. It is a good mix.
To whom do you owe your success?
I don’t think any one person can be successful without the love and support of many. My parents and grandparents encouraged me to follow my dreams. I can think of many teachers, even going back to middle school, who were great role models. My mentors in medical school and beyond have opened doors and helped me to achieve my goals.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
The biggest challenge for me was overcoming the steep learning curve during my first year of practice. Coming out of fellowship was intimidating. It really took the first year and then some for me to not have a sense of dread every time I was on call. With experience though, I learned to take everything in stride.
How do you maintain a balanced life style?
Honestly, it sometimes feels like a juggling act. I had my first child during my final year of residency. Studying for the boards, learning to be a mother and preparing to move for fellowship was a lot. I also had an abstract accepted at the SIR that year. I don’t remember much about the meeting though. Because my son was still nursing, so I essentially flew to Baltimore the evening before my presentation, gave the abstract in the morning and then went straight home. We had our second child during my second year as an attending and I feel like we were in survival mode for several years after that. We had a great babysitter who was flexible with our schedules. My husband’s job did not involve call, so that made things easier as well. One of the best decisions I made was to work four days a week. On my day off, I do all the household things so that my weekends are free to spend with my family.
The other keys are trying to be organized and good communication. If I am expecting a super busy day at work, I will let my husband and kids know that I may or may not be around in the evening so they can plan. Also, I try to stay on top of my kids’ schedules so I can anticipate when they will need me and when I may need to be away from work.
How did you become involved in Women in IR?
In 2007, I went to the SIR meeting and attended a luncheon for women in IR. It was a great idea to have this session and the women in the room that day all expressed how meaningful it was to have a chance to meet and hear from other women in IR. AFter talking to one of my partners about my experience in this session, he asked me to write a chapter about Women Interventional Radiologists to be included in a book he was editing about women’s imaging and procedures. This was a fantastic opportunity because I learned so much about issues facing women in IR. For the chapter, I spoke with Dr. Renate Soulen who was one of the first women in IR. At the conclusion of my research, I realized what I already knew; IR is a perfect field for women.
After that, I decided that it was important to keep the Women in IR group going. Women are such a minority in IR, we have to stick together. Many of us are the only woman in our practice. In order to provide a community and offer networking and educational opportunities, we have organized luncheons at the Annual meetings. Since Women in IR became a section at the SIR in 2015, our goals have become significantly larger. In addition to supporting women in IR, we hope to formalize a mentoring program, increase the number of women speaking and presenting at national meetings, and work to increase the number of women entering IR.
What advice do you have for those junior to you?
My advice is to figure out what is important to you and figure out how to get it. Find a job where you can be happy and with partners you like. Define what work schedule will keep you sane. I decided to work a little less and make a little less, but I think the rewards have been worth the sacrifice.