by Daniel Lee, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, MS-2

Name: Dr. Gail Peters

Training and Experience:

Title: Program Director- VIR Residency and Fellowship, Assistant Professor at Emory School of Medicine
Fellowship: Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center – VIR;  Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles – Pediatric Radiology
Residency: Tucson Medical Center, Tucson, AZ
Medical School: University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ

How did you decide on a career in IR?

I did Radiology to be an IR doc.  During my 4th year of medical school, I did a radiology rotation to learn enough imaging to function in internship.  During that radiology rotation, I discovered IR-and was hooked from the first day.  It was early in the 4th year, so I changed to radiology.  

What research projects are you involved in and could you elaborate on their objectives?

My current emphasis is involvement in anything that increases medical student exposure and experience in IR.  That is my primary objective as medical students are the future of IR.

I am currently mentoring a 4th year medical student on a 5 month discovery research project.  He is looking retrospectively at the Emory experience with percutaneous and endoscopic biliary drainage in patients with cholangiocarcinoma.   The preliminary results were accepted as an oral presentation at SIR and we will submit a manuscript this spring.  With trainees as co-authors, I will have 5 SIR posters in LA.

The rest of my “research activity” is not research per se.  I am faculty liaison for the IRIG at Emory, and run electives for 2nd and 4th year medical students.  Twenty-Three M4s rotated with us this year, 18 through VSAS.  Many published case reports, book chapters or had an ACR “Case in Point” accepted during their elective.   We will have a regional simulator symposium in April which will be organized by IR faculty and the IRIG.

A huge advantage of the new IR-DR residency is the opportunity to work with trainees for a longer period of time—5 years vs 12 months.  This should result in great improvement in both quality and quantity of IR publications.

What are some interesting IR research topics that medical students should know about?

Just get involved!  Reach out to the IR department at your institution.  Set up a shadowing experience.  IR is such a diverse and innovative specialty that the opportunities are practically limitless.  Most meetings offer medical student scholarships to help with costs.

How do you balance your time between clinical work and research? 

I don’t.  The fact is that what I write is related to great case content and medical education.  My co-authors are nearly exclusively students and residents. 

What are some of the rewards and challenges you face in your field?

RewardsI work with an incredible group of people at a top rate medical school doing high end cases.  I love working with trainees, especially medical students.  Emory has one of the largest DR residencies and IR fellowships in the country.  I lead an amazing educational team with IR-Integrated and IR-Independent residencies approved and a designation for up to 3 ESIR residents/year.  This is an exciting time in IR as we transition to a full blown residency.  To be on the ground level of this transition with such a committed team is truly an honor.

ChallengesWork life balance is difficult to achieve.  With a busy clinical service and all the ground work to lay for the new residency, it is hard to get it all done.  To be honest, we are literally making it up as we go.  At Emory, we have chosen to include much more clinical education than the 1 required ICU month.  This will involve substantial work and commitment as we tailor and sculpt the clinical education to train the best possible IR’s.

What qualities do you value in future applicants to IR residency?

I spend more time with trainees than with my friends and family.  I look for honest, hard-working individuals who will do the right thing–even when nobody is looking.  I want to train docs who will go into practice and promote the Emory brand and make us proud that we trained them.

What can medical students do to be competitive for IR residency?

  1. Choose a mentor.
  2. Join the SIR—early, not just the year of your application.
  3. Get involved with the RFS or MSC.
  4. Attend an SIR or other IR meeting.  Scholarships are available.
  5. Join the IR Interest Group at your school.
  6. If there is no IRIG at your school, start one.  Resources are available through the SIR.
  7. Do IR electives at home and/or institutions at which you might like to train.  The applicant pool is amazing, and an away rotation gives you a whole month to shine!
  8. Do a project.  Make a poster.  Write a case report or paper.
  9. Help with a medical student symposium.
  10. Follow IR docs and groups on twitter.

 What do you like to do when you are not working?

  1. Attend festivals and street fairs with friends and family. This is even better if there are craft or Belgian beers to enjoy.
  2. Eat ethnic foods—Indian is my favorite
  3. Watch movies and “cop shows.”