Advertisement

Dr. Kay Vydareny: Fifth female ACR Gold Medal winner

      Highlights

      • In 2005, Dr. Vydareny was awarded the ACR Gold Medal for her distinguished, extraordinary service to radiology full of groundbreaking firsts.
      • As an attending physician, Dr. Vydareny gradually found more opportunities to meet fellow women colleagues through the AAWR.
      • Dr. Vydareny is optimistic that more women will become leaders in medicine, with no longer any need to label a woman as “the first” in any position.

      Abstract

      Each year, the American College of Radiology (ACR) has awarded its highest honor, the ACR Gold Medal, to an individual for distinguished, extraordinary service to the ACR or to the discipline of radiology. While this prestigious award was established almost a century ago, only ten women have received the honor throughout its history. This article seeks to highlight the life and achievements of one of these women, Dr. Kay Vydareny. Despite encountering barriers facing women in the medical field during medical school and residency in the 1960–70s, Dr. Vydareny went on to embark on a remarkable, enduring career. Early in her career, she began to build a professional network of fellow women colleagues through the American Association of Women Radiologists (AAWR), eventually serving as AAWR President in 1984. In addition to the AAWR, she served in leadership roles in many professional radiological organizations including the ACR. She was elected the first female speaker of the ACR Council Steering Committee in 1993, served on the Board of Chancellors from 1995 to 2002, and was President in 2001. At the same time, she maintained a passion for medical education. In honor of her distinguished and extraordinary service to radiology full of many groundbreaking firsts, she was awarded the ACR Gold Medal in 2005. She was only the fifth woman ever to receive this award. Throughout her outstanding career, Dr. Vydareny has continually been a dedicated and thoughtful educator, mentor, and leader who has made a lasting impact on the field of radiology.

      Keywords

      1. Introduction

      Every year since 1927, the American College of Radiology (ACR) has awarded the ACR Gold Medal to an individual for distinguished and extraordinary service to the ACR or to the discipline of radiology [
      • American College of Radiology
      Gold medal award.
      ]. While this prestigious award was established almost a century ago, only ten women have received the honor throughout its history.
      This article seeks to highlight the life and achievements of one of these women, Dr. Kay Vydareny, a distinguished radiologist who was awarded the Gold Medal in 2005 for her outstanding work in the field.

      2. Early life & influences

      Dr. Kay (nee Herzog) Vydareny grew up in Chicago, Illinois. During her childhood in the 1950s, her mother supported a more traditional path for her. However, her father and teachers encouraged her to “do as much as [she] could do” [
      ] to succeed in school and in a future career.
      She attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After developing a fascination for anatomy and physiology, she became interested in pursuing medicine as a career, even though there were no role models in her immediate family. In an interview with the American Association for Women Radiologists (AAWR) titled “Reflections from Women Radiologists,” she remembers that her parents “were not certain this was a good field for their only daughter” and were concerned that she would end up “single and lonely” [
      • American Association for Women in Radiology
      Reflections from women radiologists: Kay H. Vydareny, MD, FACR.
      ]. Nevertheless, she persevered with her decision and enrolled in medical school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

      3. Medical education & early career

      When Dr. Vydareny attended medical school in the 1960s, the University of Michigan was proud that approximately 10% of its class every year was female. Nevertheless, “it was a different time,” recalls Dr. Vydareny [
      ]. Sexist comments were frequently made in class, and it was stated by many professors that women who planned to start families could not perform the same level of work as men.
      Dr. Vydareny's initial choice of specialty was internal medicine, but she soon discovered that most of the “interesting cases” involved radiology. The field was also appealing for another reason. At the time, she was married and had young children, and radiology also offered her what she thought was a more flexible schedule. After graduating medical school in 1968, Dr. Vydareny completed internship and a year of internal medicine residency and then went on to a residency in diagnostic radiology.
      She was the first woman intern that her rotating internship program had in over 20 years, which brought some interesting issues – she shared the on-call room with the male interns, and she was asked to place indwelling catheters on her male patients because the nurses, who were women, were not allowed to do so on account of their gender. As is still true today, during her residency, life as a working mother presented challenges as she tried to combine her responsibilities as a resident with her desire to spend time with her three small children.
      She recalls that during her internship and residency she had few women colleagues who shared the challenges she faced. During this time, however, while she had many positive mentors in her internship and residency programs who helped her along her career path, she unfortunately also encountered several “negative mentors” [
      ] who accused her of taking up the spot of a male who would be more committed to his career than she would.
      Nevertheless, Dr. Vydareny successfully completed her residency and went on to further specialize in thoracic radiology. She chose the field after she became interested in thoracic abnormalities and the many advancements being made in CT at the time. She worked for several years at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, before moving to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

      4. Developing a professional network

      After becoming an attending physician, Dr. Vydareny gradually found more opportunities to meet fellow women colleagues. While there were still relatively few women in the field, she found that joining organizations like the fledgling AAWR helped her connect with female colleagues. “Joining the AAWR was a particularly valuable experience, as the AAWR consisted of a group of women who all had common interests and common problems,” she recalls, so that they could collaborate to help each other. She became AAWR President in 1984. In 2000, she was awarded the AAWR's Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award, the organization's highest award given to individuals who have contributed to the advancement of women in radiology or radiation oncology.

      5. Later career and achievements

      As her career progressed in the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Vydareny soon began to become involved in numerous other professional radiological organizations. She did not begin her career with such a goal in mind but rather became what she calls “accidentally involved” in organizations [
      ]. One role led to another, and soon she became an active participant in a diverse range of organizations and activities.
      One particularly memorable experience was her long involvement with the American College of Radiology. Dr. Vydareny recalls that this involvement began when she once contacted the ACR to find out more about a program to help residents learn about practice opportunities after residency. This first interaction eventually led to her playing an increasingly larger role in the organization. “My idea wasn't to [do something important], just something I was interested in doing,” she recalls. “Once you do something well, you are asked to do more” [
      ]. She served on a number of ACR committees and commissions, as well as the Council Steering Committee and the Board of Chancellors, from 1982 to 2012. She was elected as the first female speaker of the ACR Council Steering Committee in 1993, served on the Board of Chancellors from 1995 to 2002, and became ACR President in 2001. She recalls feeling “pressure not only to succeed as speaker for her own sake, but also for the sake of future women who would hopefully follow in the roles” [
      ]. Nevertheless, she very much enjoyed the positions, as it gave her the opportunity to make progress on several important issues facing the organization.
      Outside of her role in the ACR, another major focus of Dr. Vydareny's long and remarkable career has been medical education. She served as an associate director of the radiology residency program at Emory from 1994 to 2000 and subsequently as Emory's director of medical student education from 2000 to 2005. In fact, she considers medical education to be one of the “most fun things” that she has been a part of, fondly recalling her students' energy and enthusiasm for learning. As an educator, Dr. Vydareny aimed to teach students and residents not only how to interpret radiological images, but also how to appropriately use diagnostic radiology to improve patient care. She greatly enjoyed her personal interactions with students and residents and gained satisfaction from helping them progress in their careers.
      Dr. Vydareny's passion for medical education has been reflected in the many honors and awards that she has received in the field, including the Outstanding Teacher Award in radiology from the medical students at Emory in 2003 and 2004, and the 2015 Outstanding Educator Award from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). She also was a member and Chair of the Review committee for Diagnostic Radiology of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and has been a member of a Review Committee for the ACGME-International.
      Other notable achievements during Dr. Vydareny's career include, but are not limited to, serving on and holding leadership roles in the Radiological Society of North American (RSNA), where she was the moderator for the popular Sunday Night Film Panel and was Chair of the General Radiology program committee; the American Board of Radiology (ABR), where she was a member of the Board of Trustees and served as the Associate Executive Director for Diagnostic Radiology and the subspecialties for 10 years; and the Association of University Radiologists (AUR) and the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), where she served as President. She also served as a manuscript reviewer for the academic journals Radiology, Academic Radiology, and the American Journal of Roentgenology.

      6. The ACR Gold Medal

      In 2005, Dr. Vydareny was awarded the ACR Gold Medal in honor of her distinguished and extraordinary service to radiology full of many groundbreaking firsts. She was only the fifth woman ever to receive the college's highest award after Marie Curie (1931), Edith Quimby (1963), Allice Ettinger (1984), and Rosalyn Yalow (1993). She was deeply moved and humbled to receive the award, reflecting, “You realized as you look back in your career how much you owe to people who helped you…in ways you didn't realize they were helping.” The Gold Medal represented a chance to commemorate the work that she had accomplished and to remember the people who had supported her along the way.

      7. Reflections for the future

      Looking back and considering how things have changed since she first began her career, Dr. Vydareny is glad of the way that the field of radiology, along with medicine in general, has changed to become more inclusive. She is pleased that women who wish to pursue radiology now have a greater number and diversity of colleagues and role models in the field, and she believes that this is a benefit to all.
      She acknowledges that issues such as work-life balance, which she herself experienced, remain challenges for many women radiologists. She is optimistic, however, that the future will see more women leading our radiology groups, academic departments, organizations – and indeed our country – and that it will be no longer necessary to label a woman as “the first” in any position. Throughout her outstanding career, Dr. Vydareny has continually been a dedicated and thoughtful educator, mentor, and leader who has made a lasting impact on the field of radiology.

      Acknowledgments

      The authors wish to thank Dr. Vydareny for granting a personal interview and reviewing the article prior to double-blinded peer review.

      References

        • American College of Radiology
        Gold medal award.
      1. Personal interview with Dr. Kay Vydareny, conducted by Jade Wang and Elizabeth Kagan Arleo. July 8, 2020
        • American Association for Women in Radiology
        Reflections from women radiologists: Kay H. Vydareny, MD, FACR.