UW Radiology

An Interview with Dr. Mary Kelly

Elizabeth Perera, Director for Philanthropy, UW Medicine Advancement, recently caught up with Dr. Mary Kelly (Chief Resident, Class of ’84), to find out what inspired her to pursue a career in Radiology. Even in the midst of helping to plan and prepare for her daughter’s wedding, she took time out of her busy schedule for this month’s feature interview! Mary has served on the Rohrmann Endowment Advisory Board since its inception in 2014, and she, along with Drs. Shuman and Rohrmann, brought the Rohrmann Endowment for UW Radiology Resident Educational Excellence into existence in 2010.

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in New Jersey and went to school in Washington, D.C. and Connecticut. I was a history major but while writing for several hospital public relations departments in D.C., I became intrigued with medicine. I encountered many women who were exploring career opportunities, including the medical profession, newly open to them thanks to the Women’s Movement.

In the midst of my pre-med courses, my husband Tom and I decided to try living on the West Coast for a couple of years before settling on the East Coast. We had exactly one friend here who thought we’d enjoy it, so we packed a van full of our stuff and headed west. Little did we know Seattle would become our permanent home.

How did you become a radiologist and what attracted you to the profession?

I was fortunate to be accepted into the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1976. I did my internship at Virginia Mason and my residency at UW Medicine. I found radiology totally fascinating during my med school clerkships and Dr. Rohrmann recruited me to his diagnostic radiology program. Back then, about 16% of UW medical students were female. In the radiology residency, there was about one woman per year.

During my education and training, I never felt at a disadvantage because of my gender. When it came time for me to take the radiology oral exam for board certification, I happened to be seven months pregnant. It may have startled a few of the examiners but they did not blink an eyelash and I passed the boards.

What was your experience like working with Dr. Rohrmann?

Dr. Rohrmann was an excellent role model. He was demanding and inspiring at the same time. My very first rotation in the residency was on his gastrointestinal service at Harborview. I still recall some of the striking images we captured of rampant pathology at that hospital.

I remember after I was elected to be chief resident, I was at a social event with Chuck and other radiologists. A former resident jokingly said to Chuck, “So you didn’t elect one of the boys?” Without missing a beat, Chuck replied, “Mary is one of the boys.” I thought that was pretty funny and took it as a compliment. It was emblematic of his evenhanded support of all residents, as well as his droll sense of humor.

I think the high caliber of the UW residents can be in no small part attributed to Chuck. He has set a tone of integrity and of intellectual curiosity. He is a kind, funny, and highly effective leader who leads by example. The program is very fortunate that he’s chosen to participate for as long as he has.

Mary and her husband, Tom

[You can read the conclusion of this interview in the Summer 2018 edition of the Rohrmann Endowment Newsletter]