A secure fellowship spot and leads for starting practice are satisfactory for some Diagnostic Radiology residents entering their final residency year. Dr. Israel (“Izzy”) Saramago wants more return from his culminating months in training. Throughout residency, he has identified opportunities to gain a better understanding of his field and future practice, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

2019 NCRS resident scholars at May ACR national meeting RADPAC gala: Saramago & UNC R2 Elizabeth Deans (2nd from R, Far R)

Izzy has involved himself at the national level since early residency. As a 2nd-year, he served as UNC’s resident representative at RSNA’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Scientific Assembly. The following year, he received a RSNA Certificate of Merit Award at the annual meeting for a faculty-mentored project (Dr. Benjamin Huang) with regards to surgically implanted objects encountered on head imaging. For this year’s RSNA, Izzy hopes a successful application will allow him to serve as a RadioGraphics Review Panelist.  In spring 2019, Izzy received the UNC Department of Radiology 2019 Education Excellence Award.

In early 2019, Izzy was awarded a $2000 travel scholarship from the North Carolina Radiological Society (NCRS), the American College of Radiology (ACR)’s state chapter, to attend the ACR’s 2019 meeting. In a show of program strength, he became UNC’s fourth consecutive resident to receive this NCRS scholarship, joining UNC Diagnostic Radiology residents alumni and previous recipients Drs. Scott Abedi (2016), Ami Vakharia (2017) and Bryan Ashley (2018).Former Diagnostic Radiology Program Director Sheri Jordan oversaw all four selected residents in their training years. She notes: “Advocacy is one of the cornerstones of success in our profession. There is no more powerful voice than radiology’s future. We are very proud that Dr. Saramago becomes UNC’s fourth resident in as many years to be chosen by the state chapter to represent our institution’s scholarly strength, patients and referrers at the national level.”

Attending the national meeting informed resident awardees of issues pertinent to modern-day radiology, such as quality and safety, advocacy and economics.  The meeting also introduced Izzy and others to ACR’s executive leadership, as well as its peer network, the Resident and Fellow Section-Young and Early Career Professional Section (RFS-YPS). At the meeting’s pinnacle event for trainees — Capitol Hill Day – Izzy and other NCRS awardees exchanged ideas with congressional legislators on issues impacting the specialty that affect policymaking in imaging research, regulation and other topics.

Capitol Hill Day: At the ACR national meeting, NCRS resident awardees met with Congressional lawmakers to discuss policymaking affecting the radiology field (Saramago on L).

Post-meeting, Izzy’s follow-up report on his experience was published in the NCRS’ newsletter. An excerpt (adapted and condensed) reveals his appreciation for a merit-based opportunity that exposed him to how radiology leadership and lawmakers at the national level address issues impacting the field and medicine itself.

Why must I wait to be 50 years old to make a significant change in our profession? That was not the message being proposed by the ACR. In fact, the resident and fellow section showed me that I had a place at the table to start making a difference and make my voice heard. Mentors like mine (Dr. Gaurang Shah) make me want to push beyond my limits in order to achieve excellence for the future of radiologyCapitol Hill Day was a great experience. … The Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act of 2019 to freeze interest payments would make a HUGE difference for medical and dental students paying off loans. Learning about the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act of 2019, Mitigating Surprise Medical Bills, and Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act (MARCA) of 2019 was also eye-opening.

 I am very thankful for the generous support from my residency program at UNC and the [NCRS] for allowing me to experience such a great meeting. Getting to know the current and future leaders of radiology at ACR, at the RADPAC gala, and at [NCRS] dinners were truly outstanding experiences. This is just a stepping stone for more things to come.”

As he wraps up residency, Izzy has precise plans for ongoing program contributions, as well as where he see himself in future practice. Now past the core ABR exam, he wants to implement a UNC Neuroradiology club for residents and interested medical students. He’s also started a macro template optimization project in order to improve efficiency of workflow in daily practice. Out of fellowship, he wants to join a hybrid private practice/academic affiliate model and be involved with its leadership.

For a resident who’s reaped repeated professional reward where he’s invested his energies, Izzy’s summary words for all that he wants to come of his efforts while at UNC are unsurprising: “The sky is the limit!  A shout-out to Drs. Sheryl Jordan, Benjamin Huang, Carlos Zamora, Keith Smith, Katrina McGinty, and Benjamin Mervak for all the support they’ve given me along the way.”