UW Radiology

Recollections: A Letter to Juniors on Getting Promoted – Dr. Chapman

 When I first joined faculty as a pediatric radiologist, I had contemplated the contrast between a career in academics versus private practice.  Being part of an academic group would mean I would be able to practice entirely in my subspecialty, I would continue working with trainees and medical students, I would be a part of the body of faculty who had turned me into a radiologist, and I would have the chance to impact our field in addition to helping patients.  Following this path would also mean I would be judged in part by my written contributions.  I knew from the beginning that a successful career in academics would require that I make steady progress in publishing, and the number that was suggested to me by my trusted mentors was four papers per year.  At the time, I was assured that any papers previously written, no matter what the subject matter, would count toward my promotion.  That made the promotion time clock less intimidating.  Although there have been some changing expectations about needing to demonstrate a level of productivity within years at rank, the number of four papers per year has remained a useful guide. 

            I like to reassure our junior faculty who may have only limited experiences in writing that success really is guaranteed once they connect with a cohort of mentors.  Early in one’s career, demonstrating enthusiasm and responsibility on one project means that other opportunities will come your way.  The mentor-mentee relationship is a partnership that benefits both individuals in various ways.  A successful mentee will motivate a mentor to facilitate more connections across our regional and national community, and one thing leads to another.  If a trusted mentor introduces you to a clinician or radiologist from another center in the context of a project, run with it and work hard.  It really is all about connections.  Our promotion up the ranks requires a review of the various ways we contribute to our field – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.  Expanding our network of colleagues is an important aspect of our growth in academics and a key part of earning a promotion.  I owe tremendous thanks to all of my prior teachers and mentors for broadening my horizons in this way. 

An academic community requires volunteerism to function and thrive, and we all need to do our part.  It is easy to get involved, and this is another aspect of your portfolio that will be considered when your time comes for promotion.  Again, it’s all about the people.  Joining committees can be accomplished in a number of ways – help out locally by joining our department’s committees, join state organizations, respond to an email from a national society recruiting new members, ask your section chief to recommend you.  And then stick long-term with the committees whose members share your perspectives and goals.  Enjoy it!  Enjoy it.  That is my advice.  Our specialty is full of great talent and characters.  Connect with them, write with them, work with them, and your career will blossom.  ​