Stanford Surgery Graduates First IR Interns

June 5, 2018

IR Intern Dr. James Hui and General Surgeon Dr. Irene Wapnir examine a film during Hui's rotation in the breast surgery section.

For the first time in its history, Stanford Surgery will graduate interns into the field of Interventional Radiology (IR) on June 10, 2018.

“We’re treated exactly the same as how they treat all of the other interns,” said Dr. Lynne Bettinger, one of the three IR interns including Drs. James Hui and Stephan Leung. “I think a lot of people don’t even know that we aren’t general surgery residents.”

Stanford’s IR residency program started in 2016.

“Since the field of IR has evolved substantially over the past decade, and it now encompasses many more procedures and disease states, the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) has realized the need to provide a more robust clinical training experience focused on IR and image-guided interventions,” said IR Residency Program Director Dr. William Kuo.

Although the SIR does not specify in which field residents must completeprofil their internship, Stanford’s IR residency program has required its trainees to complete their internship year in surgery since its inception.

“Surgery definitely makes sense as a budding interventional radiologist,” said Hui. “There is really no other field that IR works with more than surgery. Knowing the procedure, knowing the anatomy, having seen open flesh, definitely gives you a mental picture of how things will look when you’re looking at a plain film.”

While Bettinger and Hui will be staying at Stanford for their IR residency, Leung will be completing his education back on the east coast at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

“One of the big reasons why I wanted to come out to Stanford is because my family is here,” said Leung. “I also thought it would be a good training opportunity. Stanford is known as one of the best surgical programs; there are lots of leaders in the field here that you can learn from and work with. They really let their interns into the OR and let them operate.”

While Kuo acknowledges that residents may have family or other personal reasons prompting them to complete their internship at another medical center, he feels there are significant advantages to completing intern year at Stanford.

“One advantage of training within the same institution is gaining valuable experience with the complexities of a hospital/healthcare system, which should ease the transition from internship to residency,” said Kuo. “Another advantage is forming personal multidisciplinary relationships early on that could help optimize patient care down the road.”

Bettinger and Hui agree.

“I feel that doing a surgical year here has been invaluable,” said Bettinger. “I’ve built so many relationships with the surgical attendings, who will consult IR on a regular basis. There’s a mutual respect that you construct, that you wouldn’t if you interned elsewhere.”

As their time in surgery draws to a close, the IR interns say the feeling is bittersweet. Although excited to delve more deeply into his specialty, Hui says he is already starting to miss the feeling of being “a surgeon.”

“With each case that I scrub in on now, the thought enters my mind that it will probably be the last time I'll see a lumpectomy, laparotomy or vascular anastomosis,” said Hui. “But I also feel accomplished; I have certainly learned a lot and feel confident at this point being a ‘real doctor.’”

We wish you all the best of luck as you fledge into IR Residents!