Hey, Residents! Our March Resident Spotlight is with Dr. Csilla Egri, a PGY-3 in Diagnostic Radiology. We chatted with her about balancing parenting and residency, her passion for art, and the draw, challenges and successes of Radiology.
Residency in itself is a tough period of life, on top of which you have chosen to become a parent—another tough job! Can you tell us about your decision to balance residency and family, what has helped you do so, and what are some challenges you think residents considering parenthood, or just started parenthood, should be aware of?
Whether it be dedication to a sport or music, taking care of fur babies, or anything else, we all have to somehow balance a work life and a personal life, each demanding time from our 24 hour day. My personal life just happens to include a husband (of 10 years!) and a 7 year old daughter.
I think finding balance between the two spheres is heavily reliant on organization and time management, thus maximizing the quality time I can spend with my family. Becoming a parent quickly taught me these skills, as “planning for emergencies” seems to always be a must! It used to be diaper explosions and lost Binkies, now it’s snow days or sick days (or babysitter calls in sick days!) etc. While these events are not in my control, I can control how I plan and react to them. In order to not fall behind in my professional life, I aim to get projects done right away or study for exams well in advance. In addition to this, I am extremely fortunate to have a supportive spouse and family that steps in at times when even the most diligent planning can’t accomplish it all!
If I were to give advice to anyone thinking of starting a family, it would be that there is never a “perfect time” to have kids. There will always be challenges and difficult decisions to make, whether it’s before, during, or after residency – especially so for women. There are lots of places to go to for support, questions, and to help navigate the process, including resident peer-peer network, wellness counsellors, and resources from the RDofBC website.
One of your hobbies is art. What medium do you prefer, and how do you make sure you have the time, between residency and parenting, to dedicate yourself to it?
Art, in its various forms (pencil, watercolour, paint, or even prose) has become my essential creative outlet. What I enjoy most about it is the process: an inspiration, an idea, planning the best method to bring my idea to life, and experimenting with different techniques. This all together brings a feeling of timelessness and fluidity when putting pencil to paper or brush to canvas. I am proud of each piece I create, not because of any technical skill or achievement, but because I have accomplished something I’ve set out to do, and finished is better than perfect. There is always something I can look back on and think I could have done this better, or that something didn’t look quite how I wanted it to, but there’s no way I would have known this without trying it out first!
In terms of how I set aside time to pursue art, I suppose the short answer is I don’t really. I create art when I really feel that yearning for creativity, and these days a lot of my inspiration has come from work, from patient stories and the humanities of medicine.
What drew you towards a residency in Radiology? What have been some of the challenges and successes for you so far?
As a visually driven person, I find the practice of radiology quite aesthetically pleasing; scrolling through the soft, velvety gray tones in a 3D FLAIR brain MRI, the smooth monochromes of an abdominal ultrasound, the sharp blacks of proton density tendons, and the crisp whites of vasculature on a CT angiogram – all while in comforting, dim ambient lighting…makes for a pleasant day at work.
And that’s just the diagnostic part. The procedures interspersed throughout the day can be highly rewarding, seeing how much relief can be provided to patients from even the quickest of interventions (fluoroscopically guided joint injections, ultrasound guided aspirations etc.)
The challenges thus far have been the steep learning curve right out of medical school and the extreme breadth of knowledge required for this specialty. Not only must I train my eyes to spot the abnormality, but I have to be able to distinguish pathology from the borderlands of normal, and provide a meaningful interpretation in the given patient context. This is definitely a work in progress, but I feel lucky to be able to learn this art and skill from experienced and patient mentors in the program.
These challenges don’t come without rewards, as I advance in residency and can apply my accumulated knowledge into practice, times of making “a great call” serves as an excellent positive feedback and external motivator.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to enjoy the full scope of a general radiology practice somewhere in the community setting. I would also be interested in finding out more about rural radiology, and would be keen to pursue a rural radiology elective during my residency.