Elise Desperito, MD, Receives the 2022 NYRS Distinguished Educator Award

Elise Desperito, MD, associate professor of radiology and vice chair of education.

The New York Roentgen Society (NYRS) has selected Elise Desperito, MD, associate professor of radiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and chief of the Division of Breast Imaging, as the recipient of this year's Distinguished Educator Award.

The annual award is given to radiology faculty who demonstrate excellence and dedication towards the education of residents, fellows, medical students, and/or faculty and who have large future potential in education.

"Dr. Desperito was selected due to her extensive efforts to enhance the educational experience of trainees," says Janine Katzen, MD, assitant professor of clinical radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine and co-chair of the NYRS Awards Committee. "Her CV demonstrates extraordinary efforts in the education arena for which she deserves this recognition."

Desperito is vice chair of education for CUIMC's Department of Radiology and former program director for the Radiology Residency. As program director from 2016 to 2021, she oversaw an extensive revision of the residency curriculum and implemented a program of designated educators, which identifies faculty members within each division who are responsible for orienting new residents. In collaboration with the program leadership in the Department of Medicine, Desperito also started a radiology/internal medicine resident-run conference, the success of which led to a second interdisciplinary resident-run conference with the Department of Emergency Medicine.

In addition, Desperito is active in the wider CUIMC community, improving interdiscplinary education through the development of a comprehensive breast care elective for medical and PhD nursing school students that will launch this academic year. This course aims to help students understand the medical journey of a person diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as the critical need for collaboration between healthcare professionals to provide optimal care and prevent burnout. The course includes clinical time in radiology, breast surgery, breast oncology, and breast radiation oncology; a workshop with mental health professionals specializing in caring for breast cancer patients; a workshop with standardized patients to learn how to give a comprehensive clinical breast exam; and a discussion with breast cancer survivors.

She has also been a part of the CUIMC working group that organizes the yearly speaking event for National Physician Suicide Awareness Day in September.

Desperito's impact extends into her research and global health work, through which she closely mentors individual trainees and junior faculty.

"She finds the best in people and helps them become the best version of themselves," says Kathleen Capaccione, MD, PhD, a former resident who nominated her for this award. "She not only supports the residents in name, but she actually accompanies them as they strive toward their dreams."

The NYRS award will be presented on September 28, 2022, at the NYRS annual meeting.