Meet Dr. Anjali Malik. She is a radiologist specializing in breast imaging. She is a great educator, has incredible accomplishments and really good advice, both in medicine and outside of medicine. She is sharing her journey, her best tips on how to make it and much more. Read on then give her a follow on social media!
Name: Anjali Malik, MD
Job title: Breast Imaging Radiologist
Type of practice: private
Social media: @anjalimalikmd on Instagram, Twitter and Clubhouse
Journey to medicine
Undergrad: Johns Hopkins University, BA in Public Health - Natural Studies
Medical school: Tulane University School of Medicine
Residency: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center/Parkland Health & Hopital System
Fellowship: Brem Breast Imaging Fellowship at The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates
Why did you choose this field?
My third year at Tulane was a year after Hurricane Katrina. I worked with a breast surgeon as part of my general surgery month and enjoyed the cases, the pathology, and the workup of these cancers from the imaging to the biopsy, the management, and beyond. But even more, I connected with the patients. These women endured a hurricane, only to suffer from advanced breast cancer and perish from a lack of access to healthcare. With my background in public health, I knew breast imaging provided me the opportunity to prevent these deaths, to reach a wide population of people, and to impact their health outcomes.
How did you make your CV stand out? For medical school or residency?
My mother always encouraged a wide range of extracurricular activities, which I continued in college. From a capella to Indian dance, sorority fundraisers to Brazilian capoeira, I participated in a variety of activities that I think helped me stand out. But more than anything, I chose them because they interested me, not just for my CV. For medical school, my experience during third year and Katrina helped shape my personal statement, but also, in my opinion, showcased my resilience, an attribute we all need in medicine.
How much research experience did you have when you applied for medical school? For residency?
I worked in a neuroscience lab doing bench research for two years in college, and I can honestly say I disliked it, so I never pursued research in medical school. Instead, I used the advocacy skills I garnered in my public health college internship to propel me forward down a path in advocacy. Again, I chose not to take a traditional "CV building" route because it felt inauthentic to me. That said, many opportunities exist in the research space, and looking back, with some initiative, I could have created something that worked better for me.
What is the most fulfilling thing about your career?
Knowing that the early detection that I offer patients saves lives. And a good ultrasound core biopsy - I never expected to love procedures so much!
What is the least fulfilling thing about your career?
The anxiety that patients experience. I work to educate and empower women through my social media platforms, but find myself combatting the pink washing breast cancer awareness campaigns of the last 30 years which have really led to anxiety more than anything else.
What does a day in the life look like for you?
There is no "average" day! I work in outpatient imaging, which means no nights or weekends, but the days always vary. I do a mix of reading screening mammograms, seeing patients with symptoms and performing their ultrasounds, doing procedures utilizing multiple imaging modalities, and interpreting breast MRIs. I also do body/vascular ultrasound, radiographs, and bone densities as part of my group practice.
How many hours a week do you work?
What are common conditions you manage?
Breast cancer - invasive ductal, invasive lobular and ductal carcinoma in situ; atypical lesions that can be precancerous or increase the risk for breast cancer; benign lesions like cysts, papillomas and fibroadenomas; breast abscesses/mastitis; lymphoma - because we see lymph nodes on mammograms and are often the first ones to spot an abnormality; genetic mutations - I see alot of BRCA 1 and 2, Lynch Syndrome, ATM and CHEK2 mutation carriers, amongst others, who all need high risk screening.
What is your favorite condition to manage?
Something benign, of course! There's a real satisfaction from aspirating a large, painful, inflamed cyst. Instant gratification.
What is a big misconception about your field?
That we just sit in the dark all day! Radiologists SEE patients (and daylight) and play an active role in healthcare!
What is something surprising that you do in your job?
Diagnose systemic illnesses through a mammogram. So far I have seen tuberculosis, amyloidosis, lymphomas, leukemias, and filariasis.
Do you perform procedures?
Yes! I perform breast biopsies utilizing ultrasound, mammogram, and MRI, as well as thyroid and lymph node sampling using ultrasound.
Life outside work
What are your hobbies or interests outside medicine?
Yoga, cooking, travel - it is incredibly important to try to maintain these throughout life, but especially in medical school and residency, where it is so easy to lose yourself.
Do you feel like you have "work-life balance"? If so, how do you achieve it?
I think the concept of work-life balance makes it sound like we are not living while working. To me, that is a horrible thought! We spend so much of our time working, does that mean we are only half living? I know that is a harsh interpretation, but it is more of a wake up call - find something you love doing, and find a way to fit it in with the remainder of your life. And be comfortable with the fact that you cannot do everything all the time.
Any last words of wisdom for those considering a career in medicine?
Your years of education and training are a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you take care of yourself so you can see that finish line - no matter how long it takes.
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I will be featuring different physicians and healthcare workers here on the Blog regularly through Careers in Medicine Series. Through sharing these stories, my hope is to demystify careers in medicine for the younger generation and for those hoping to pursue medicine. Share this with someone who might be interested!
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