I just completed abdominal radiology fellowship and here is my review of the application experience as well as fellowship year at UCLA.
During my 3rd year of residency (two years ago) I applied for abdominal radiology fellowship and interviewed at three institutions (UCLA, Stanford and USC).
My first interview was at Stanford.
- Pro: faculty seemed really great. 8 weeks of elective time; fellows can moonlight at the VA; call was 8-10 wks depending on the number of fellows, flexibility to accommodate fellowship based on interest given 8 wks of elective time. Regular work schedule was very reasonable (most seem to be done by 5pm)
- Con: No procedures (although you could use the 8 wks of elective time to do IR), limited didactics (ie. conferences); call sounded pretty tough b/c only body took call so they read everything.
- Overall: seemed like a fantastic program.
Second interview was at USC:
- Pro: outstanding faculty (many of the them I knew as fellows at UCLA), cross sectional procedures (drains, biopsy); work day ended at 5pm. The fellow that took me out for lunch for Q&A session was set for private practice and seemed really happy with his choice. USC offers breast/body and other body combination fellowships.
- Con: limited didactics
- Overall: got a solid training in general abdominal radiology and procedures with outstanding faculty
Final interview was at UCLA, where I ended up doing my fellowship because I had done my residency there and it was only one year, so it was more convenient for me to stay.
- Pro: solid didactics (3-4 hours dedicated to abdominal radiology), solid training in sub-specialty and general abdominal radiology, moonlighting opportunity (overnight ER reads x 2 wks and gets paid like an attending).
- Con: quality of life is okay (most days can last until 6-7 pm; certain rotations like GU can last till 9 pm or longer especially the first half of the year). Minimal elective time (1-2 wks and it's not guaranteed); call is 6 wks (b/c my class had 6 fellows) but can last from 8am-6pm (it's getting busier with increased clinical volume and the change to read outpatient studies over the weekend).
Faculty at UCLA:
Dr Barbara Kadell is a legend at UCLA; she was the first female resident and attending at UCLA Radiology when the hospital was still a tiny 4 story building instead of the behemoth that it is now. Her dedication to education is clear; she hosts the Friday GI/CI case conference for decades; she was part of the medical school selection committee for close to 25 years; she currently serves as the vice chair of clinical services at RRMC. I love her and love being on service with her. I admire her because she is graceful, effective, committed and cares a lot about those around her; of course, she is always available.
Dr David Lu is the second most senior faculty member in the abdominal section and heads the Cross Sectional Interventional Radiology (CSIR) service. He's been at UCLA for over 20 years and the structure of the section has been largely influenced by him. He's very thoughtful in process and approach. I love being on service with him because he loves and enjoys teaching. When I am doing a procedure with him, he will walk you through the steps and explain to you why and how he does what he does which is really an outstanding experience for trainees. If you do reach out to him for clinical research projects, he's going to want to test you to make sure that you are really dedicated and committed to the project before he will agree to proceed. I think this approach is very effective because you ensure that the project is feasible and that the time that is being invested will have a return for the individual as well as the mentor.
Dr. Michael Douek is the associate medical director for Santa Monica UCLA Hospital. He's been at UCLA for close to 10 years. He has won the resident choice associate professor award two or three times during my stay at UCLA. He's just a really great person with solid values. He's always available; and he's very personable. As a fellow and resident, you had limited time working with him because he worked in other rotations that did not have trainees on rotation.
Drs Rinat Masamed and Simin Barami completed their training at UCLA and stayed on as faculty in Abdominal Radiology. I worked with them a lot during my rotation. They both perform procedures and I learned very solid diagnostic and procedure skills on service with him.
Dr. Victor Sai is a junior faculty in Abdominal Radiology section and Acute Care Imaging section at UCLA. Victor is responsible for doing the abdominal radiology power-scribe templates which are incredibly helpful during rotations because all the templates are pre-populated at the time of dictation and will save you so much time. He won the resident choice assistant professor award a couple years ago. I think he's contributed most in terms of improving my reporting structure. He has comb through my reports and will give me detailed feedback on how I can improve it. If you understand these feedback for what it is (i.e. he really cares and wants to improve your style) and change your style according to his feedback, your reports will become much better.
Dr Steve Raman is the fellowship director and most of the non-service related interactions will be through him.
There are additional recent abdominal radiology faculty who are all outstanding. Maitreya Patel who teaches a lot during rotation and I really learned a lot being on service with him; Ely Felker is a more junior faculty and is very personable.