Jasnit Makkar, MD, Appointed Program Director of the Diagnostic Radiology Residency

Dr. Jasnit Makkar, assistant professor of radiology and program director for the Diagnostic Radiology Residency

The Department of Radiology is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jasnit Makkar, assistant professor of radiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, as program director for the Diagnostic Radiology Residency.

Dr. Makkar previously served as the associate program director for the residency, where he worked closely with program director Dr. Elise Desperito and the residents to continually improve the program. “I consider it an honor to take on this position, and I really enjoy what I do," said Dr. Makkar. 

Dr. Makkar joined the Department of Radiology in 2016 and is a member of the Division of Abdominal Imaging. He came to Columbia following a residency at Westchester Medical Center and a body fellowship at Mt. Sinai. Education has been one of his lifelong passions.

Q & A with Dr. Makkar

What plans do you have for the DR Residency under your leadership?

I hope to make some changes to the curriculum to reach different kinds of learners. When I was in residency, everyone read from textbooks and printed things and highlighted things. I think now, people are used to watching videos and listening to podcasts and having a different learning environment because that’s how they grew up. Because of that, I think we have to adapt a little bit. Dr. Pallavi Utukuri, who is in charge of the medical student education, has already adapted fully, and I’d like to lead by her example and make our program more technology friendly.

I also plan to focus on resident well-being. Before COVID, we used to have picnics and go to Yankee games and have happy hours. Dr. Desperito and I used to take each class out to dinner from time to time and we’d get to know the residents' families. We had holiday parties and graduation. And all of those things just went away. I think we have to think outside the box to get back to that in some way, so we can all be in one space. I’d like to add team building exercises and activities outside of the reading room and the hospital to help create a kind of camaraderie that may not exist intrinsically. It's something that I’m passionate about.  

What makes the Columbia Radiology Residency stand out?

We are in a tertiary care of tertiary care hospitals. And what I mean by that is not only are we serving the population in Washington Heights but we’re serving many different geographical regions in the tri-state area, as well as outside the tristate area and sometimes worldwide. We have some of the greatest clinicians in the country, some of the best surgeons in the country, and they attract very complex pathology. We’re doing countless clinical trials in all different oncological specialties. We do every solid organ transplant. So we have a breadth of pathology from the most mundane to the most complex. 

We're a place with great clinicians, but we’re also an academic institution that’s one of the greatest universities in the country. We have a lot of really smart people solving really complicated problems outside of just medicine, and you can feel it when you go to any kind of conference. There’s really no end to how much you can do at Columbia.  

You've been looking at the effect of COVID on radiology residents. What have you learned?

I think it’s been overall negative but there have been some positives. One positive is that people who worked off site and could never give resident conference can now—because we’re so good at using Zoom—give talks and conferences. So now we’ve increased the number of people who can give talks. We changed our resident interview process which was a challenge, but I think it allowed people to interview for our program who might have normally found it challenging to come to our program because of the distance they would have to travel. I think at the end of the day when we get back to normal, we’re going to be more versatile in our education process. But it has forced some really tough growing pains.  

What's your approach to leadership?

I think good leadership is understanding the residents' challenges and really understanding where they’re coming from. I think it’s also being able to ask for help from mentors or people you admire. Having a vision of what you think a successful, happy resident is and—obviously we don’t live in a perfect world—trying your best to get there, and always getting feedback from everyone involved.  

Do you have a favorite teaching moment?

I think the best thing that’s ever happened to me as an educator was when I taught something to a resident and then a year later I overheard that resident in a reading room teaching what I taught him to someone else. A year after that I heard that second resident teaching it to a third person. And when I asked that third person, he explained it back to me. And I was really proud that I had made that kind of an impact, to the point that it was taught back to me.