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SPIE Professional January 2006

Career in Focus

Start your medical imaging career right with tips from Elizabeth Krupinski, chair of Medical Imaging 2006.

By Erin M. Schadt

Beginning your career can be tough no matter what your area of research. The academic environment, however, introduces a new set of challenges.
Elizabeth Krupinski, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), will present strategies and ideas to better navigate through these challenges early in your career at the upcoming workshop "Early Career Professional Development in Medical Imaging."
Keys to effective professional development in academia include understanding the promotion and tenure process, and writing and winning research grants, as well as broader strategic career planning topics, such as effective CV development, resource negotiating tips, time management, and organizational skills.
SPIE Professional recently caught up with Krupinski about early professional development in medical imaging.

Elizabeth Krupinski is a research professor of radiology and psychology at the University of Arizona and has been involved with medical imaging research in academic environments for more than 15 years. Her main interests are in medical image perception and ob-server performance in radiology and tele-medicine applications.

SP: How is the field of medical imaging unique to other fields when planning a career?
EK: In a global sense, there arenot that many unique aspects to medical imaging compared to other career choices. The main aspects that will be touched upon in the workshop are the unique aspects of working in academia compared to other organizations, but even then the topics discussed will pertain across the board. One key thing facing those going into medical imaging, however, will be the need to be broad-based -- to understand multiple imaging modalities, to understand more than just physics or computer engineering. There is and will be much more emphasison integration.
SP: What are the advantages of having a five-year career plan such as will be discussed in the course?
EK: This allows you to set reasonable goals that are likely to be accomplished within the given time frame, and it is generally easy to monitor progress in this time frame. Another advantage is that the environment you are in (personnel, etc.) is not as likely to change compared to a longer time frame, so the goals that are set within this specific context maintain that context. Long-term goals are also useful to have, of course, but the milestones or specific intervening stepsforreaching long-term goals are generally less specificthan for short-term plans.
SP: What are some key elements to creating a successful plan?
EK: Be as specific as possible. Be as realistic as possible. Have contingency plans or other options if possible. Be flexible -- things can change, and you may have to modify or adapt your plan.

SP: What are people early in their careers (or still in school) typically surprised by once they are working in academia?
EK: Many people are not aware of the promotion and tenure process. They do notknow how it works, what the timeframe is, what aspects of performance are evaluated, and so on.
Many people also do not realize the importance of having a mentor or at the very least someone who can show them the ropes to getting grants, writing papers, getting promotions, etc.
SP: Could you describe one or two challenges that academia, in particular, presents?
EK: The mainchallenge is often finding the monetary supportneeded to do research and stay employed.
Most people are on soft money, meaning they need to get grants -- on a continual basis -- to stay funded. This generally takes more time than people think, and with funding being as tight as it is, people often don't realize it can take numerous attempts to get a grant funded.

Erin M. Schadt, SPIE Professional Managing Editor

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200601.003