10 Questions with Matt Hawkins, MD

April 27, 2016

For this “10 Questions” series, we spoke with Matt Hawkins, MD, about his work and the future of radiology.

1. Please state your name, title and the organization you work for

Matt Hawkins, MD, assistant professor, Emory University School of Medicine; director, Pediatric Interventional Radiology, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

2. How did you get where you are today?

I did my diagnostic radiology residency training at the University of Cincinnati, followed by fellowships in diagnostic pediatric radiology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and vascular interventional radiology at the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital.  I started in my current role at Emory following training.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"48040","attributes":{"alt":"Matt Hawkins, MD","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_1145906240263","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"5716","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 251px; width: 180px; float: right;","title":"Matt Hawkins, MD","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

3. Why did you choose your profession?

With the exception of a few select centers, there was a perceived gap in the IR services being provided for adults, and those provided for children – despite the technological capability to perform similar procedures in both populations.

4. What is your biggest day-to-day challenge? 

Undoubtedly, it is educating clinicians and patients about pediatric interventional radiology.  It turns out that peds IR is more than just placing PICCs and replacing GJ tubes.  Believe it or not, the field consists of vascular malformation embolizations, renal angiography/interventions, liver transplant interventions, osseous cryoablation, venous/arterial thrombolysis, and plenty of other novel procedures. While it is sometimes an annoyance to continually educate people about our capabilities, it is simultaneously one of the best parts of the job.

5. What worries, if any, do you have about the future of radiology? If none, where do you think the field is going?

The concerns I have about radiology are similar to the concerns that other specialties have.  While we have spent a substantial amount of time in radiology discussing apathy, engagement, and patient-centeredness, we should be reminded that other specialties aren’t exactly excelling in these arenas, either. My concern is that medicine has become a job with a high-paying salary, rather than a career that presents each individual and team with an opportunity to impact lives and leave a legacy.  The former is commonplace. The latter is a blessing.

6. What one thing would make your job better?

If health care leadership would adopt an operationally-driven agenda for allocation of resources rather than a financially-driven one!

7. What is your favorite thing about radiology?

We are so fortunate to be able to interface with nearly every specialty in medicine. If there is one field that is intricately embedded into the day-to-day operations in health care, it is radiology. This presents us with a unique experience that health care organizations would be wise to learn from.

8. What is your least favorite thing about radiology?

The public perception and understanding of our profession is sorely misguided. That is our fault, though. It is up to us to engage patients, policy makers, and payors and tell radiology’s story. We have a good story to tell. But a great story told by a bad story-teller is nothing but a bad story. We need inspiring ambassadors to spread the word about radiology’s role in health care delivery.

9. What is the field’s biggest obstacle?

From a longevity standpoint, it is impossible to ignore the insecurity induced by the current transition from transactional reimbursements (fee-for-service) to value-based payments. In all reality, there will be some groups who “win” and those that “lose.”  Maintaining a cohesive, galvanized professional identity that is separate from the health care organizations for which we serve will be a mighty challenge. This is the elephant in the room.

10. If you could give the radiology specialty one piece of advice, what would it be?

Our ability to communicate amicably, collaboratively, and effectively will drive the success of our profession as much as the clinical knowledge housed between our synapses. Embrace our patients.  Respect our referring clinicians. Be helpful. Learn to love the unique position we are in.

Is there someone in the imaging community that you want to hear from? E-mail us their name and we'll ask them 10 questions.

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