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Dr. Laura Traube is this quarter’s Women in IR Spotlight for being a leader and innovator in the field of Interventional radiology.
Dr. Traube completed her medical education at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, NY in 2009. While at NYU, she also earned a master’s degree in public health, with a concentration on global health policy and management. She completed an internship in internal medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and a radiology residency at UCLA. Dr. Traube completed her VIR fellowship in 2015 at UCLA, followed by a breast imaging fellowship at the University of Southern California. She recently began her first attending position in Santa Barbara, CA at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she practices a combination of interventional radiology and breast imaging.
Dr. Traube is an active member of the Women in IR Committee of the Society of Interventional Radiology. She also serves as the SIR delegate to the AMA’s Young Physician Section and as a member of the Government Affairs Committee. Not only is she working hard to build her practice as a new physician, she is passionate about mentoring and building the future of IR. I met Dr. Traube at the 2016 SIR annual meeting and had the honor of interviewing her for this quarter’s Women in IR spotlight article.
How did you get into IR?
As a medical student I was interested in surgery, but saw a lot of unhappiness and disillusionment in what seemed to be an unacceptable number of attending surgeons. Several surgeons unhappy with their lifestyles and careers encouraged me to explore IR and I’m so grateful I did! I love performing procedures and working directly with patients while also having a diagnostic skill set. There is an opportunity for so much choice in an IR career, as the ever-growing breadth of IR procedures keeps us from getting cornered into doing the same 5 things over and over, which can happen in surgical subspecialties. Yet, the depth of the numerous clinical focus areas of IR, from interventional oncology to peripheral vascular to non-vascular, etc., allows focused expert specialization if one so desires.
What is a typical day like for you?
Having recently completed training, I’m currently climbing the mountain of transition into the real world. For me, that includes meeting the expectations and challenges of private practice, which can seem like a parallel universe to the academia of my training institutions.
How do you maintain a balanced lifestyle as a newly practicing physician who is trying to build her practice?
A female IR role model gave me great advice early in my training and recommended I explore having a second expert skill set in addition to IR in order to enhance both the value I bring to a practice and my ability to mold my career to meet changing lifestyle needs over different eras of my life. For me, that meant doing an additional breast imaging fellowship, which was a need at the practice I was hoping to join. I saw this combination as a great opportunity to combine the IR and DR portions of my career in a complementary way. Being a breast imager allows you to develop relationships and a referral network with physicians you may otherwise not have reason to interact with and thus provides a direct point of contact for the population of women that would benefit from women’s interventions. There are many other interesting combinations people have carved out for themselves such as IO’s being experts in oncologic imaging or IRs focused on vascular interventions being experts in cardiovascular diagnostic imaging. Having two complementary hats you can wear not only enhances the value you bring to the practice, but also enables you to achieve a balanced lifestyle when necessary. For example, one may take less IR call during child bearing or rearing months, yet they are able to contribute heavily to another part of the practice where other providers may not feel comfortable.
How and when did you decide on a private practice versus academia? When did you start applying for positions?
I personally love clinical work the most so I wanted to focus on that. During my search, I was open to a clinical track type of academic position, but an opportunity arose at a private practice in a dream location in which my husband and I could see ourselves being incredibly happy, so that is where we went. Many opportunities are via word of mouth, so my advice to trainees is to use their SIR network as much as possible to see what is currently available and what positions may be opening in the future. Quite a few young IR attendings I know initially heard about their position through their network of other residents, fellows, and attendings around the country they met through SIR or on the training interview trail.
How did you make the transition from fellowship training to practice and what advice do you have on making this transition?
You have to be relentlessly adaptable and ready to meet whatever needs your practice might have. As a VIR and breast imaging fellowship trained radiologist, the last thing I expected to be doing in the first week of my new job was reading brachial plexus MRIs. But, it had to be done so I did it! As a recent IR trainee you are at the height of your ability to absorb and adapt, which makes the transition easier. You are used to learning and quickly implementing new things, so taking on types of work you didn’t initially anticipate is not as difficult as it may seem. Also, I think the most important thing you can do as the newbie is to provide as much value to your practice in whatever form they need. I believe having that attitude is the biggest step you can take in earning the respect of your partners as well as establish the foundation of resources and support necessary to develop your practice in the ways you want.
What advice do you have to those who are junior to you?
Open your ears and mind to everyone and every opportunity you can. Meet as many people through SIR meetings and events as you can as these relationships will provide a wealth of wisdom, insight, opportunity, and friendship.
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