Duration: One year fellowship programme, certified by Tata Memorial Center.
No. of seats: 1
Eligibility: MD/DNB Radiodiagnosis. Post MD/DNB Senior Resident experience is helpful but not a pre-requisite.
Fellowship application process: MCQs followed by Interview. Applications are out in April/May every year with the course beginning on 1st of August. Check the website www.tmc.gov.in for the announcement.
Exams: Exit exam at end of the fellowship, with both theory and practicals.
Thesis: Not compulsory.
Working hours and night duties: 08.30 to 17.30 hours (it can stretch a little longer). About 5 night duties per month depending on the number of senior residents available at that time and 1 Sunday every 1-2 months
Hostel accommodation: Not provided.
Diagnostic and intervention exposure: Daily mammo and CT reporting, along with breast MR reporting. Lots of hands on exposure in breast interventions like breast lesions biopsies and wire localizations.
Academic activities and multi disciplinary meets: Chance to attend various conferences, workshops and present cases and lectures.
Fees and salary: No fees. Salary is Central Govt pay scale; currently between 80-90k per month.
Leaves: 30 ELs and 10 CLs
More details about the fellowship
The concept of ‘soul place’ was very foreign to me, until I returned to Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) once again in the summer of 2018 for a short-term observership of two months in Breast Imaging. I had 3 months to kill before I moved overseas to start a new job and life. Having spent a lot of time at TMH as a child and also my grown-up years (cancer runs in our family like heirloom), it wasn’t a new place for me.
Those two months changed the course of my life to come. So, when I came to know that TMH has opened a one-year breast imaging fellowship for the first time, I was thrilled. I knew that’s what I wanted. Even if that meant putting my plans for that year on hold. After an excruciating wait following a written MCQ exam and interview results, not to mention some very fierce competition, I was thrilled to know that I had got it! I would be the first Breast Imaging fellow from the Tata Memorial Hospital, one of the most prestigious cancer institutes not only in the country but the entire world.
So, diving straight into the logistics, Room no.65 or ‘mammo’ as we called it, became my fixed abode for the months to come. I practically ate, worked, lived and slept there. On call duties were also a part of the course. We have two mammography machines at TMH (and a third one at ACTREC, Kharghar, where the fellow doesn’t rotate), one of them with digital tomosynthesis. Reading 60-70 mammograms a day meant it was a good day. Crossing 100 meant the fun had begun! In addition, ultrasounds, biopsies and mammo-guided wire localizations were part of the day, apart from reporting 5 CTs of breast cancer patients daily and making prelim reports of breast MRIs. On my lucky days, I also got to attend the joint multidisciplinary meetings (tumor boards).
From the sheer joy of telling a lady who has travelled from across the borders for her follow-up mammogram that she is cancer free, to the agony of answering another’s question whether she has cancer while scanning her, this place has taught me just more than imaging. The sheer quantity of work is your best teacher here. But Tata didn’t teach me just radiology; it also taught me empathy and patience. Due to the large volumes, it was often difficult to spend more time than you would like with a patient, but the experience taught me a lot about prioritizing. I learnt that if an outpatient’s report was not ready by close of the day at 5, it would mean she would have to spend the night in Mumbai, likely on the street with no place to stay.
Overall, it was an extremely enriching experience. The confidence I have in interpreting mammograms today, is not something I would have if I hadn’t done the fellowship. It prepared me thoroughly for the work I am doing today in the UK. In addition, working with different dedicated breast radiology faculty every day gave me a wide spectrum of learning opportunities. Each one of them had something new to teach. In addition, the radiographer team is excellent with mammoth experience behind them. I learnt a lot of fine aspects of mammography and mammo- guided procedures under them. TMH encourages lot of academic activities and I got to attend conferences and courses as well during my fellowship. In fact, I won the First Prize in the ‘Breast Screening and MRI’ quiz held by the Mammography Education Inc, Sweden, held in Europe during the fellowship.
Now coming down to some of the concerns that prospective applicants may have.
Some might argue that one year duration of the fellowship may be stretching it, but bear in mind all international fellowships are for a minimum of one year. If you plan your schedule and rotas with your guide carefully, there is a lot to do and learn. A good plan would include fixed time set aside for reporting breast MRI’s and staging CT’s. At least for the first six months, CT and MRI’s reported by the fellow are verified by a consultant initially.
Accommodation is not provided as of now, so those who are not locals will have the added strain of finding an accommodation, preferably closer to the hospital as 24 hour calls are a part of the fellowship. To those who might fear they would lose touch with general imaging while doing one year of dedicated breast imaging, on calls require reporting non-breast studies as well, including CT pulmonary angiograms, abdomens and brains. With regards to the MCQ test and interview, a working knowledge of physics related to mammography would be helpful. Also do brush up some basic classification of breast cancers and their pathophysiology. The interview consists of a panel of TMH faculty and an external examiner. It may sound daunting but it is usually on the lines of your future plans and reasons for pursuing this fellowship.
To anyone who is considering a career in breast imaging, there couldn’t be a better place than TMH for a breast fellowship. It is not fun and games. It definitely isn’t where you would finish on dot and leave for home. It is grueling and will test your patience at times. But it pushes you. To do more. And to do better. That’s what I have taken from my time here.
So coming back to the concept of soul place, I am convinced that TMH is mine. Training brought me back here again. It has inspired me to become what I am today and pursue Breast Imaging with a fervor. I will forever be grateful and proud that I was the first Breast Imaging Fellow from this iconic institute.
– Dr Nandita Goel, MD Radiology, Fellowship in Breast Imaging, Tata Memorial Hospital
MMed Radiology in Breast Imaging, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom