October 07, 2022
Dr. Katherine Copely on what it's like to be a radiology resident
Katherine Copely, MD, chief resident in diagnostic radiology at the UK College of Medicine, shares what it’s like to train in her specialty, and what advice she has for future residents.
Q: What inspired you to go into medicine?
A: Growing up as a competitive figure skater, I found myself frequently injured and spent a lot of time with sports medicine doctors. They always wanted to do what they could to help me get back on the ice. I wanted to help patients get back to what they love, whether that is sports or just back to their normal.
Q: Why did you choose your specialty in radiology?
A: During medical school I tried to imagine what my life would be like in every specialty that I encountered so that I could make the best decision for me. My father was a radiologist, so I had some knowledge of the field and could explore it early on. Radiology is typically a fourth-year elective, and it is often too late for students to experience before residency applications are due. The workflow and the subject matter of the day-to-day felt like the right fit. I am a visual learner. I love the minimally invasive procedures, and I also enjoy being a part of an interdisciplinary team working together to create tailored care plans for our patients.
Q: What does a typical day look like as a radiology resident?
A: The typical hours for a radiology resident are from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with daily educational lectures from noon-1 p.m. Our days consist of interpreting diagnostic imaging, talking to clinicians on the phone (or in person), approving or modifying exam protocols, as well as performing image-guided diagnostic and/or therapeutic procedures.
Starting in the second year (PGY-3) we take turns working evening shifts in the emergency reading room from 5-9 p.m. in addition to a normal workday. We also take turns working weekend shifts in the emergency reading room throughout the year from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your medical career?
A: It may sound counterintuitive for a radiologist, but I really do enjoy interacting with our patients. Explaining why the procedure is indicated and what the biopsy results may mean is extremely rewarding. Being able to explain and show the imaging to a patient in detail helps them to understand the process and make informed decisions for their care.
Radiology also has a lot of opportunities to achieve work-life balance. Teleradiology, on-site, private practice, academic practice, part-time, full-time, procedures, no procedures. There are plenty of options to suit your interests.
Q: What advice do you have for others who are interested in a career in medicine?
A: Starting a career in medicine is no easy feat, but it is rewarding. Understanding your goals and yourself as a person are important when deciding on a career in any field, in health care or otherwise. It is OK to change your mind throughout your journey. I changed my mind several times and knew others who did the same! Ultimately you must do what feels right for you.