Mary Salvatore, MD, MBA, Appointed Vice Chair of Education

Mary Salvatore, MD, associate professor of radiology and vice chair of education

The Department of Radiology is very pleased to announce Dr. Mary Salvatore's appointment as vice chair of education. This position brings Salvatore's extensive experience and commitment as an educator to a department-wide level.

Salvatore is a cardiothoracic radiologist and an associate professor of radiology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. In her new role, she hopes to work collaboratively to broaden the educational opportunities offered by Columbia Radiology. "I believe that giving people opportunities is the key to their success," says Salvatore. "I've been given a lot of opportunities here at Columbia, and I want everybody to have that feeling."

Salvatore joined the department in 2016. Prior to her tenure here, she created and implemented a radiology residency program at Staten Island University. She is a founder and co-director of Mentors Without Borders, through which she provides mentorship to students from all over the world.

Q & A with Mary Salvatore

What role will you play in the department as vice chair of education?

This would be a different role if our departmental education wasn't working, but our education leaders are doing a great job. I can encourage them and see opportunities for them and support them so that they can continue to do what they already do so well, but they don't need me to help them do their job. At this level, when everything is going really beautifully, then you are able to think about big, global questions, such as how we can change the way we think about education in the department.

How do you see education evolving in the department?

I'd like to broaden the definition of who we educate at Columbia. I'd like to find a way for interested people, when they come to the United States, to get to come into our wonderful hospital where my colleagues and I can work with them in person. There's so much that needs to be researched, and we can't do it on our own. There is so much opportunity here at Columbia, and with that comes a responsibility. We have the room to help educate a lot of people.

It has been my philosophy for years now to never say no to anyone who wants to learn. I get calls and emails from all over the world, and I just never say no. It takes very little out of me. I love all the students, but I'm particularly fond of the women in countries that are oppressed. I love believing in them; it takes very little for me to say, "I believe in you," and it totally changes their lives.

What is your approach to leadership?

It sounds cliche, but I really try to lead by example. I try not to lose my patience, I try to always sound optimistic, even if it's been a very stressful day. On top of that, I like to identify strengths in people quickly and see the path for them to be successful. I can also see their weaknesses and help them to correct them.

How has your own education shaped your views about educating others?

I know from my own experience that you can come from anywhere and get anywhere through education. My father only went through second grade, but he believed in education. He sent us to a good school in our neighborhood even though he worked three shifts in order to do that. But he couldn't imagine anything more than that. He would tell us that we weren't the Joneses and we shouldn't try to be the Joneses.

For my brothers and me, it was in our souls to become educated. My mother recently told me that when I became a doctor, and when my brothers became doctors, my father told her, "Well, now we are the Joneses." He didn't mind being the Joneses. I think he was surprised by how things went.

Any specific education ideas right now?

I'd like to create YouTube vignettes for new attendings to teach them how to use Catalyst, how to apply for an IRB, and how to apply for a research grant. It's really a recipe for success to get you moving.

We have to be all-inclusive, and I believe that giving people opportunities is the key to success around here. I want to identify opportunities and be able to say, "Did you see this opportunity? I think you'd be good at it."

I hope to invest in the educators of our department and reach out to the Department of Education at Columbia University and ask if they can share their resources with us.