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Meet Dr. Tara Catanzano - Radiologists like her are "the doctor's doctor"

July 10, 2017

“I’m a geek,” laughed Dr. Tara Catanzano.

But, exactly the kind of “geek” you want in your corner when it comes to helping diagnose what is wrong with you.

Dr. Catanzano is the program director for the Radiology Residency Program and the associate director of Academic Career Development at Baystate Medical Center.

Her fascination with technology – as a radiologist you must keep up-to-date on the latest diagnostic imaging equipment being used from ultrasounds to MRIs and from CT to PET scans and other imaging methods – began while in medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Fascinated by technology

“From attending my very first lecture in medical school on the topic, I was fascinated with the technology behind radiology and its use as an important diagnostic tool for doctors seeking answers for their patients,” said Dr. Catanzano, who went on to complete her residency and fellowship in radiology at Yale University School of Medicine in 2003.

But it is more than just the technology that is the attraction for Dr. Catanzano.

“I enjoy this field of medicine for the ability to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Taking the clinical history for the patient, looking at the images obtained, then making a diagnosis for further management,” she said. “Radiologists are the ‘doctor’s doctor.’”

So, how does someone from New York, who lived in England for a year as a child, end up at medical school in Ireland?

In her grandfather's footsteps

“My grandfather was an Italian citizen who attended medical school in Bologna, Italy. I had always intended to become a veterinarian, but along the way changed my mind. I thought going to medical school in Ireland would be a great adventure and provide an excellent education,” said Dr. Catanzano.

Prior to her coming to Baystate, Dr. Catanzano was on the faculty at Yale University School of Medicine for five years, where she served as the section chief of Cardiac MRI and CT.

“As a resident at Yale, I had excellent training from the faculty there,” said the radiologist, who would later become a faculty member herself teaching new residents.

In 2008, Dr. Catanzano took her clinical skills as a radiologist and love of teaching to Baystate Medical Center.

Time for a change

After spending 12 years at Yale, including her residency and fellowship, Dr. Catanzano felt it was time for a change.

“I had just gotten married and had family in New York, so I didn’t want to stray too far. I came upon this wonderful group of family-oriented physicians at Baystate who were very welcoming to me. It was a great decision to come to Baystate, which has given me so many leadership opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have had,” she said.

As program director of the Radiology Residency at Baystate, Dr. Catanzano just welcomed four new radiology residents in July for a total of 16 in training as the doctors of tomorrow.

“I love teaching and watching these new young doctors grow and develop, and knowing that I had a role in who they are going to become as radiologists,” said Dr. Catanzano. “I want them to become well-rounded individuals on top of their good clinical skills.”

In addition to working clinically with patients and alongside residents, Dr. Catanzano is active on many local, regional and national committees. At the national level, she has been responsible for creating a number of peer reviewed publication opportunities for doctors around the country in her roles as creator and special features editor of the Society of Body CT and MRI Case of the Quarter/Journal of Computer Aided Tomography and as co-editor in chief of the North American Society of Cardiovascular Imaging Case in Point. She is a member of the Uroradiology Committee for the American Board of Radiology, writing questions for the Core Examination. She also reviews for national radiology journals, abstracts for the American Heart Association Annual Meeting, and the RadExam. She has most recently taken a role in the Office of Faculty Affairs at UMMS-Baystate as the associate director of Academic Career Development.

Advances in radiology

Dr. Catanzano said the field of radiology has advanced far more than when she was a resident some 15 years ago.

“The technology has vastly improved the resolution of what we see on images today and its applications have skyrocketed,” she said. “Imaging has become pivotal in the diagnosis, evaluation and follow-up of patients in today’s medical environment.”

When Dr. Catanzano doesn’t have her doctor’s hat on, she is busy tending to her two children, two dogs, and four cats, along with her husband. And, when she has time to herself, she loves to read books on the subject of leadership and mentoring.

“One of the things I’ve been very interested in lately, particularly because of my faculty affairs role, is how a person develops into a leader… we become better leaders and mentors to others in helping them to reach the next level,” she said.

If you’re looking for a good read on leadership, Dr. Catanzano recommends trying books written by John Maxwell.

“He writes spectacular books on leadership, understanding yourself as a leader and how to become a more effective leader,” said Dr. Catanzano, who will deliver a roundtable presentation on career development and mentoring at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Society of Body CT and MRI in Nashville this September.