This post was contributed by Maxine Jochelson, MD.
I started my career as an academic radiologist at a prestigious institution after an NCI fellowship. Things were fantastic: papers were published, promotions were on time. I was in charge of the oncologic imaging at my institution.
But then, for a variety of reasons, I needed to move and went into private practice. I fully intended to continue my academic endeavors. Over many years I only managed one review article and co-authorship on a few abstracts. I asked, but vendors were not interested in providing equipment and support to test new modalities in our busy but private setting.
I joined the Radiographics panel to review posters at the RSNA and reviewed for a few journals. This kept me in touch with colleagues in the academic world. The years flew by; I decided to see if there were any opportunities to get back into academics. During a professional meeting, I approached several academic department chairs to see if there were openings in their respective departments. They indeed did have openings and shortly thereafter I received invitations from two of them to apply for jobs at their institutions.
Encouraged, I decided to go for it and have been back in academics for seven years. I was a bit rusty, and in the intervening years it has become much harder to get papers published. I am excited to be back, more enthusiastic than ever and having the time of my life.
So, for those of you who for some reason cannot go right into academics or need to leave temporarily: Do not despair. Become a journal reviewer (they can always use the help), join and become active in relevant organizations (such as the American College of Radiology), maintain relationships with friends still in academia, become a visiting professor, bring cases to show house staff at local academic hospitals and, if possible, write a little something now and then. And when an opportunity arises, go for it.