This series highlights members of IDEXX Telemedicine Consultants as they discuss their individual career paths, passions and provide words of wisdom for fellow Veterinary Radiologists planning their careers.
Erica L. Fields DVM, DACVR
Role at IDEXX Telemedicine: I am a teleradiologist and one of the team leads. I lead the cross sectional imaging team, a fantastic group of people!
Undergraduate Studies: University of North Carolina Greensboro
Vet School: North Carolina State University
Residency: North Carolina State University
Share a memory from your residency: One of the first times I used dictation software in my residency to report on a CT, I was proofreading the report, in which “subscapularis” was transcribed as “scarecrows.” For some reason, that one really got away with me and I couldn’t stop laughing. Luckily, my resident mates were as goofy as I am, so we all had a good laugh. I was laughing at the typo, and they were laughing at me.
Additional Experience: I have worked at NCSU and University of Tennessee post-residency, and enjoyed the teaching and collaboration at both places. Between internship and residency, I worked in small animal general practice for 2 years, which was extremely valuable. I still draw on that experience daily.
Why did you choose your career? If you mean veterinary medicine, I’d say it chose me! I loved radiology in school and during my internship, but I wasn’t certain I wanted to specialize. After being in general practice for a couple of years, I really struggled with the feeling that I should be very proficient at EVERYTHING and decided it would suit my personality better to focus on one area.
Passions/interests: I love dancing, and have participated in Irish Dance and Highland dance periodically throughout much of my career. Finally having gotten settled into our home life and my work role, I have taken up Irish Dance again – it has been wonderful! I love spending time with my family and taking care of our menagerie.
Inspirational insights for new Radiologists entering the workforce: You have an amazing array of opportunities before you. Don’t burn bridges, because it’s a small community, but feel free to try different things and find what fits you best.
What is your favorite thing about Veterinary Radiology? Radiology combines a couple of my favorite things: anatomy and written communication. It allows me to feel that I am a part of the healthcare team by focusing on my strengths and allowing others to focus on theirs.
Do you have a favorite imaging modality and why? I enjoy all of what we do, but there’s a special place in my heart for CT. Again, I think it goes back to my love of anatomy.
What do you enjoy about your position with IDEXX? Hmm…everything! I can’t pick a favorite thing. We have a fantastic team. When we get together at ACVR or workshops, it’s like having a reunion of great friends, and then you realize that you’ve only been in the same room with some of them once or twice! I believe in our mission. It sounds very sentimental, but I really think we think of our patients and clients first and foremost in decision-making. And I love being able to live where I want and work from home. It allows me the best balance of personal and professional satisfaction.
What tips would you like to share with Radiologists interested in Telemedicine? Pay attention to every specialty and learn as much as you can from everyone you talk to. As radiologists, we can’t play every role, but particularly in serving general practice clients, it’s our job to help synthesize the information they have given us with the imaging findings to help them choose the next best step. That may mean drawing on things you learned in places other than the radiology floor in your residency. Also, learn to write well. Our reports are the only product people see. They’d better be great!
Tips on how to prepare for and then finally take boards: Oh boy, for writtens, I don’t know…persevere! For oral boards, do as many cases as you can. Doing reports and seeing cases is the best preparation. Learn to move past something you didn’t do well so it doesn’t taint the rest of your exam. That’s true in life, too.
Are there telemedicine myths you’d like to bust? That we all work in isolation, dressed in sweatpants. We are very connected. Literally every day I email or IM with someone about an interesting or challenging case. I get more opinions from other radiologists with one email than I did while working at the university because we were always pulled in so many directions there. OK…the sweatpants part may be true.
Do you have suggestions for those planning to work at home? Find a workstation setup that is comfortable for you. I work with an adjustable standing desk and treadmill. I’m still finding small adjustments to make things more comfortable, but I am more focused and productive when I am comfortable.
What other information would you like to highlight about our team? I am NOT a tech person. I have never been gadget-obsessed, and I was worried about how I would deal with computer issues working from home. The specialist support team is great. They don’t (openly) laugh at me when I mess things up, which I do all the time. If there’s anything affecting my ability to work, they find a way to fix it.
Share a memory of a life event and how it has shaped you today? That’s a tough one. The thought that came to mind was a time before vet school when I was working at an emergency clinic, and a client was really abusive over the phone in spite of my best efforts to remain calm and professional. I ended up hanging up on him, and was really worried about telling my boss what had happened. He said, “when he calls back, put the call through to me.” When he took the call, he stood up for me firmly, telling the client that I was a good and caring person doing my job, and that no one should talk to me that way. I guess it hit home because it made me realize that being treated with respect is what we should expect, and trusting that our coworkers understand that is the first step in creating a cohesive team.
Tell us about the animal companions in your life: We have 3 dogs, all shelter critters. Grady and Raisin came from shelters in Knoxville, TN, and Aspen was fostered through a rescue network we work with. Two kittens, Dust and Speck, recently joined us from a local practice where a vet school classmate works. Our 2 barn cats, Honeybun and Scramble, we inherited with the farm. Nora, an elderly Cleveland Bay mare, was a research subject in a friend’s tendon imaging study, and needed a home when the study ended. We have 8 sheep, acquired mostly through Red Dog Farm, a local foster and rescue network. We have a rotating flock of bantam chickens. They are free-range, so the circle of life causes occasional losses, but there are currently 4 little roosters running around here like a tiny motorcycle gang.
If you’d like to learn more about Telemedicine with IDEXX, email us today!