Guest Editorial: Taking a chance

By Ellen Shaw de Paredes, MD
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Dr. Paredes is the Founder and Director of The Ellen Shaw de Paredes Institute for Women's Imaging, Glen Allen, VA; and a Clinical Professor of Radiology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. She is also a member of the Editorial Board of this journal.

Itruly loved, and still love, many aspects of academia. The joy of teaching and of seeing the product of that work as one of my former residents goes out into the real world and makes a difference is unparalleled. The daily routine of a heavy clinical load, teaching, trying to work on a research project, writing, and administrative roles was punctuated by these wonderful moments of seeing a consult case coming across my desk with a "great call" made by a former resident.

Despite these positive moments, times can change and they did. It was time for me to leave the university and step out into a new sphere--private practice. My goal was to develop a world-class breast center that would encompass clinical and intellectual activi-ties--a place where we could take excellent care of patients, where I could teach, do some research, and raise the bar of awareness about breast cancer.

Accomplishing this goal has required taking risks, and I equate it with the time when I was a child taking swimming lessons. I had to climb up to the diving board and jump into the deep end of the pool. It was scary on the way up and exhilarating after the plunge into the chilly water.

I opened the center three months ago and have found the experience to be educational, challenging, exciting, and, above all, an opportunity freely use my creativity to accomplish my goal. I have learned much about the value of friendship in this process.

Anna Quindlen, in her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life , describes the importance of appreciating each day fully, and she reminds us to "look at the view." In my decision to leave the security of the university and to create this unique environment, I realized that I was able to appreciate many aspects of life more fully--suddenly, spring was more beautiful than I ever remembered it being!

This experience has validated for me that, although no place is perfect, it is so important to be happy in one's work. If you aren't happy, make a change for the better, for you and your family. Your whole life will be better.

As I left the university, I received many calls and letters, one of which was written by one of our fourth-year residents. I framed that letter and it hangs on the wall of my new office. He wrote "I thank you for taking a leap of faith, showing all of your residents/col-leagues that there are times in life that require stepping outside your comfort zone and trusting not only in yourself but in those around you." Those words inspire me each day.

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Guest Editorial: Taking a chance.  Appl Radiol. 

October 06, 2005

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