Health Services Research & Policy ■ Clinical Practice Management ■ Training & Education ■ Leadership
Health Services Research & Policy ■ Clinical Practice Management ■ Training & Education ■ Leadership
Health Services Research & Policy
■ Clinical Practice Management
■ Training & Education ■ Leadership

The Joy of Mentoring

Paying it forward for nearly 50 years has been one man's professional passion and deep well of happiness.

Today's guest blogger, Robert S. Pyatt Jr., MD, shares his story of being mentored as a young man and paying it forward as a mentor to others. His is a story of commitment to a greater good, with an impact that extends beyond radiology, touching the lives of many young people in a variety of health care professions. And his passion for mentoring continues to fuel him today.

In the spring of 1966, as a sophomore in high school, I was greatly enjoying biology class and asked my mother, a nurse, how one becomes a physician. This was before the internet brought the answer to any question to our screens in a matter of seconds. So after more conversation, my mother offered to ask the physicians at the local hospital.

The physicians all sat together in the hospital dining area, and she approached them and asked, "My son is very interested in biology and wants to know how to become a physician. Can you help with my son's question?" A radiologist at the table, Eugene Field, MD, said, "Why don't you have him come to the radiology department this Saturday morning at 8 a.m. I'll show him what we do, and we can talk." So that is what I did, and I spent many Saturday mornings at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Mass. Over those high school years, Dr. Field mentored me, and I became his shadow, even reaching the point of demonstrating findings (with his coaching) at Grand Rounds. By my senior year in high school, I knew I wanted to be a radiologist.

After graduating from college and medical school, I entered the Navy for my internship and residency at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md. While I was moonlighting one summer, the local surgeon asked if his daughter, Susanne, a pre-med student, could observe radiology and shadow me. That was in 1978, when my mentoring career began, and I was determined to pass along the favor that Dr. Field did for me a decade earlier. This first student helped with research and participated as a co-author in publishing papers from our radiology department at the Naval Hospital. She subsequently graduated from Georgetown Medical School and received a military scholarship student. Today Susanne Daye Canales, MD, is a happy private practice radiologist in upstate New York.

After graduating from college and medical school, I entered the Navy for my internship and residency at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md. While I was moonlighting one summer, the local surgeon asked if his daughter, Susanne, a pre-med student, could observe radiology and shadow me. That was in 1978, when my mentoring career began, and I was determined to pass along the favor that Dr. Field did for me a decade earlier. This first student helped with research and participated as a co-author in publishing papers from our radiology department at the Naval Hospital. She subsequently graduated from Georgetown Medical School and received a military scholarship student. Today Susanne Daye Canales, MD, is a happy private practice radiologist in upstate New York.

I have been very active in supporting development of student experiences within our health system, including giving scholarships from our group practice foundation. It is a wonderful experience to see your former shadowing students return and become members of the medical staff!

From the student's perspective, there are many reasons to shadow a radiologist. They feel like they are part of a team and are accepted by the techs and other staff. They have fun and especially enjoy shadowing when on call with me on evenings and weekends. They meet other physicians and experience physician-to-physician conversations. They closely observe procedures and see radiologists interact with patients. Finally, I can serve as a source of reference letters for graduate schools in health sciences.

Another benefit is that medical staff who shadow me gain a much better understanding of how the radiology department operates. They also enhance their understanding of how procedures are performed and what is appropriate based on the clinical presentation. In addition to sharing knowledge, this builds relationships with medical staff. New hospitalist physicians and PAs, as well as urgent care physicians and PAs will sometimes rotate with me to get oriented or seek extra experience.

It is very gratifying to see the students' joy as they become accepted into their various training programs and call me to share their happiness and appreciation. Being a mentor has helped me build strong relationships with numerous medical staff, who seek me out for my opinion and advice regularly.

Finally, I feel as though I have returned the wonderful favor afforded to me by Dr. Field many years ago. This joy of mentoring keeps me energized, as I wait to hear from the next student who has been accepted into medical school and begins his or her career in health care.

Many thanks to Dr. Pyatt for such an uplifting blogpost. Inspired by the kindness of his own mentor, he has really paid it forward many-fold over the years. Have you mentored young people in or out of radiology? Have you had similar role models like Dr. Pyatt or like Mark H. Lequire, MD, who made a difference in your own life? Share your story in the comments below or send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We might ask to use your story in a future blog post (with attribution).

Read More About Mentoring

A Female Faculty Development Program for Radiology

A Designated "Teaching Resident": A Novel Leadership Position to Promote Educational Skills and an Academic Career

Benefits of an Informal Curriculum: Recruiting Medical Students Into Interventional Radiology

Diversified Assets - A member-in-training perspective on diversity now and in the future

What I Wish I'd KnownRadiologists from around the specialty share their best advice for a younger version of themselves.


Robert S. Pyatt Jr., MD, FACR, is a radiologist at Chambersburg Imaging Associates in Chambersburg, PA, where his professional practice includes mammography, ultrasound, and CT. He went to medical school at SUNY- Syracuse in N.Y. and completed his radiology residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

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Comments 1

 
Guest - SusanneDayeMD on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 03:35

I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Bob Pyatt in 1978 in the radiology department of our local hospital in Massena, NY. I had been observing procedures in the hospital lab. My father, Dr. Sami Daye, a general surgeon, encouraged me to visit the radiology department where a new enthusiastic Navy physician from Bethesda Naval Hospital was moonlighting one week. The next day I went to radiology and reviewed films with Dr. Pyatt and observed a barium study. I was there for the week.
I spent the next summer in Washington DC with relatives, and while in the area, drove by the Naval Hospital and visited Dr. Pyatt. He allowed me to job shadow for the summer. I sat in on CT reading sessions, and printed images from the new CT scanner (GE 8800). I also spent a moderate amount of time in the library researching CT articles in the Index Medicus, and eventually coauthored 2 articles with Dr. Pyatt and colleagues.

I have never forgotten how this chance meeting shaped my life and career.

As a result, I always welcome students to sit with me during reading sessions. I enjoy writing letters of recommendation for students applying to radiology technologist programs, college, medical school, and for a young radiologist applying for fellowship training. I have also assisted new radiology technologists to find jobs locally. I have learned to return the favor as well. I hope this is a tribute to Dr. Pyatt and Dr. Field as well.

I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Bob Pyatt in 1978 in the radiology department of our local hospital in Massena, NY. I had been observing procedures in the hospital lab. My father, Dr. Sami Daye, a general surgeon, encouraged me to visit the radiology department where a new enthusiastic Navy physician from Bethesda Naval Hospital was moonlighting one week. The next day I went to radiology and reviewed films with Dr. Pyatt and observed a barium study. I was there for the week. I spent the next summer in Washington DC with relatives, and while in the area, drove by the Naval Hospital and visited Dr. Pyatt. He allowed me to job shadow for the summer. I sat in on CT reading sessions, and printed images from the new CT scanner (GE 8800). I also spent a moderate amount of time in the library researching CT articles in the Index Medicus, and eventually coauthored 2 articles with Dr. Pyatt and colleagues. I have never forgotten how this chance meeting shaped my life and career. As a result, I always welcome students to sit with me during reading sessions. I enjoy writing letters of recommendation for students applying to radiology technologist programs, college, medical school, and for a young radiologist applying for fellowship training. I have also assisted new radiology technologists to find jobs locally. I have learned to return the favor as well. I hope this is a tribute to Dr. Pyatt and Dr. Field as well.
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