Dr. Christine Glastonbury Interviewed by Dr. Andrew Callen

What do you think has been most valuable regarding your time as a member in ASNR?

ASNR membership, and society membership in general, is incredibly important for several aspects of career development. Being able to meet people from all over the world that share your interests helps expand your professional horizons and potentials for collaboration. Additionally, I think that one thing that people may forget is that society membership is still incredibly important for those going into private practice. Sometimes people going into private practice can feel more siloed, and membership in a society such as the ASNR helps you remember that you really are still part of a larger community and keeps you current in the area you have spent your fellowship subspecializing in.

For those who are going into academics – society membership helps augment the many complex dimensions of an academic career which can be tough to navigate. Academics is a team sport, and building a professional network helps foster research collaborations, can lead to speaking invitations, and helps gain insight into other departments’ approaches to problems you may be facing.  It keeps you moving forward, learning, and contributing.

What do you look for in future leaders?

The thing that I look for most in future leaders is generosity. Another way of framing this is: does a person want a role for the role’s title or because it is an opportunity to serve others and build on what is there? Leadership is about service. In any leadership position, you are taking care of people. The people that I am drawn towards – the people I believe have the most leadership potential – are very generous people with regard to their time and knowledge. These type of people consistently make time for others, particularly those who are in crisis.

The other thing I look for, particularly in meetings or group conversations, is a good listener. People who listen to others, and, equally as importantly, make them feel heard through affirmation, tend to have the most positive contribution to a group dynamic, and that naturally translates to excellence in leadership.

What do you wish you knew earlier in your career about successful leadership?

When I think about the early parts of my career, I realize that I spent too much time feeling like an “outsider” and like I wasn’t a part of the system. Even though early on I held leadership roles such as fellowship program director, I didn’t consider myself much of a leader, and felt like I was just kind of winging it. It wasn’t until I was asked by senior faculty to attend a leadership course that I really stood back and thought to myself, “OK, these people believe in me to be a leader at this institution.”  I think a lot of that initial lack of confidence was self-imposed, and a part of the impostor syndrome that a lot of us feel in medicine.

I wish I could go back to the beginning with the understanding I have now that the nature of medicine is that at every single stage of your career, you are in a position of leadership, whether you realize it or not. The question is: how are you going to actualize that leadership to serve your community?

Furthermore, as a woman in radiology, a specialty with a disproportionate representation of men, I was drawn to head and neck as a subspecialty, and ASHNR in particular, because there were so many more women there. I realize now that this environment made me feel like I was part of a larger community where I could bring my whole self to my job and empowered me to take on leadership with more confidence. Since the beginning of my career, there have been increasing numbers of women ASNR presidents, which has been fantastic.

How do you see the future of online radiology education differing from what is available today?

The COVID pandemic has really brought out some very important features of radiology education, both good and bad. The pandemic forced us to push the limits of remote conferencing, which encouraged the development of webinars, which I think overall has been fantastic. I presented in a webinar last week and I had a realization about the end question/answer sessions, which are generally my favorite part of such talks. In this webinar format, I have found that people who maybe wouldn’t have wanted to stand up at a microphone in front of a large audience at an in-person conference have felt free to ask questions. Both the number and types of questions have increased substantially [as compared to in-person lectures at meetings], which has led to a very enriching conversation, equally for me and the audience.  I love hearing questions that help me rethink a topic that I just presented on. These sorts of discussions are where the magic of education happens and I think that the webinar format has really fostered the best version of this discourse.

Going forward, as we move away from the pandemic, we have to find a way to continue to foster these types of questions and discussion. People can learn so much when the audience is able to participate more freely. Perhaps during an in-person presentation, the audience can type in a question through their phone, which could be asked by the moderator at the end of the discussion. We shouldn’t have the fear of embarrassment which prevents people from asking their good, detail oriented, focused questions, because we want people to come away feeling like they truly learned something. How can we bottle this aspect of teaching in other dimensions of radiology education? I would love to find a way to make in-person meetings more interactive, and I think the pandemic has forced us to find ways to be creative in this regard.

In addition, as we have had to find ways to engage our audience remotely, I think there is incredible power in the “short snippets” of content. Something that people can access easily and can hold their attention, getting a key point or two across. I think there is a lot of power in keeping things clear and efficient. This is something we should hold on to going forward in the post-pandemic world.

What are some of the hardest challenges you’ve noticed amongst those starting off in practice after training?

The thing that I hear most from my trainees as they go into practice is that being an attending is way harder than it looked. The feeling of final responsibility for scan interpretation really can’t be appreciated until you are doing it. Despite this, I have never met someone who has regretted making the choice of becoming a neuroradiologist. I think we have the best career and subspecialty, but it can be incredibly challenging, which in turn makes it so rewarding.

One of the things I love most about ASNR is the ability to have reunions with my trainees and hear about the arcs of their careers: the early challenges, their successes, and the lessons learned. It is one of the best parts of mentorship and teaching.

What do you wish you knew when you first transitioned to practice, and what is your advice to others?

When first I transitioned to practice, and I think this applies most to an academic setting, is that I didn’t think enough about the energy or mood I was bringing to a reading room. As an attending, you are responsible for the culture of the reading room, and you can change the entire culture with little things like being in a good or bad mood. Now, I make sure to remind junior faculty that the energy they bring to the reading room is one of their greatest responsibilities in fostering an enriching learning experience for their trainees, and a healthy workplace in general. Being present in the reading room, listening to your trainees, and recognizing your role in the overall reading room culture are all parts of being an effective teacher and leader in radiology.