Vanderbilt Radiology Residency and Mentorship

The following story originally appeared in the June 2018 edition of the Vanderbilt Radiology alumni newsletter, the Reader.
As an undergraduate biomedical engineering student at Vanderbilt, I became involved in imaging research at the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS) and developed an interest in pursuing a career as a physician-scientist radiologist. This led me to pursue a combined MD-PhD degree with a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering focused on the development of fast acquisition techniques for MR angiography. As such, when it came time to apply for radiology residency, in addition to strong clinical training, I was looking for an institution with an MR research program with researchers who I thought would serve as good mentors. 

From my prior undergraduate experience along with my investigation of Vanderbilt’s radiology program and the ongoing projects at VUIIS, I knew that I would receive excellent clinical training and the opportunity to be involved in the MR research. So I was thrilled when I matched here five years ago. 

After getting my feet under me during the first several months of radiology residency, I started looking for a lab and mentor. With a specific interest in neuroradiology, one of the neuroradiologists suggested that I look into projects with Manus Donahue, Ph.D., due to his history of a high-level of productivity, strong collaboration with clinicians and enthusiasm for training. This advice resulted in a partnership and mentor relationship that has lasted throughout my entire residency, and has helped prepare me for the next steps in my career.
It can be trying to balance clinical duties, clinical learning and research, and yet, with the support of Dr. Donahue and his team I was able to successfully find that balance. When we began to work together, Dr. Donahue helped me to develop an initial project that fit my background and future career goals. Over the last four years, he has consistently made time for individual meetings to discuss project progress and future directions. I have been given opportunities to work on multiple subsequent projects which allowed me to apply my skills, and develop the new skills that are vital to my future success as a researcher. He continued to provide appropriate level of guidance: teaching me how to use new tools then allowing graded independence. Our work has resulted in two poster presentations and one oral presentation at the International Society of Magnetic Resonance Medicine annual meeting, and two peer-reviewed journal articles, with two additional articles currently under review.

Now, in my final weeks of residency, I feel I made a great choice in coming to Vanderbilt. My goals to receive a strong clinical training while continuing MR research under a great research mentor were not only met, but also exceeded. I am completing my residency prepared with the experience needed for a career as a physician-scientist. 
Petrice Cogswell, M.D., Ph.D.