Scott Widemon, MD, Fourth-Year Radiology Resident
I just want to learn as much as I can so that I don't close any doors,
When Scott Widemon started his major clinical year at Columbia's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, he was surprised to discover that he didn't actually like seeing patients. He wasn't particularly interested in taking labs, and he found patient histories challenging. "I was the worst historian ever," he laughs. "I would get super nervous, and it was just awful."
"I had to think about whether medicine was right for me."
That period of reflection led him to consider many things, including taking time off from medical school and getting an MBA. He paid attention to what he liked about some of his rotations: the adreniline rush he experienced on surgery and orthopedics, the visual component to the neurology textbook. He sought help from a therapist and wondered if he would do well in psychiatry; he felt swayed by a fellow medical student who was talking up interventional radiology.
Somewhere along the way, the idea of radiology took hold. "Radiologists know a lot about a lot of different things," he says, adding that the specialty is a natural fit for visual learners.
Flash forward to Widemon's fourth year of a diagnostic radiology residency at Columbia. He recently scanned the first two patients enrolled in a research study he is conducting as the recipient of the 2021 William Hanafee Research Grant, funded by the American Society of Head and Neck Radiology (ASHNR). He has been accepted for a neuroradiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins in 2023. He is an active member of the Department of Radiology's Diversity Committee and is involved with the medical school's chapter of Black Men in Medicine.
In his spare time, he's reading Albert Camus' The Rebel.
"I just want to learn as much as I can so that I don't close any doors," he says. "I want to keep doors open for as long as I can."
Widemon recalls someone telling him about the Japanese concept of ikegai, which describes the things that make a life worthwhile. When choosing a career, for example, you might think about balancing what you have to offer to the world with what the world needs. "The goal is to get in the middle."
For Widemon, many of his interests and talents are coalescing in his research study. He is using an advanced MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging to look at COVID-19 patients, with the hypothesis that high-resolution imaging will identify microvascular damage of the olfactory bulb and olfactory tracts in patients who lost their sense of smell for more than six months after infection.
Widemon says the project draws on his business and entrepreurship interests as well as his radiology knowledge. In many ways, he approaches research more as a project manager than as a scientist. "I like defining the problem and then figuring out who's best at each part of the project, bringing people together and being able to communicate in a bunch of different styles," he says, adding that he may eventually get that MBA. "I think it dovetails nicely into business, too."