Mary Stuart Blakely Fisher, 1922-2006 MD Photos
It's hard to speak of her in anything but superlatives.
Mary Stuart Blakely Fisher MD 1922-2006
In a class of anything, first in the class.
Women Pioneers in Radiology: Mary Stuart Fisher, M.D.
Some readers may remember Dr. Mary Stuart Fisher as the recipient of the 1992 Marie Curie Award, honored for her contributions furthering the progress of women in radiology. Professor Emeritus in the Department of Diagnostic Imaging at Temple University, she continues to work part-time, teaching students and physicians as she has done for the past 43 years. Dr. Fisher reflects on her life in radiology in a recent interview with Focus contributor Kelly Mc Aleese.
KM: Why did you go into medicine?
MSF: I really wanted to be a research biologist, but my father, who was an obstetrician, said I didnâ€™t have the skills for that field and recommended medicine instead. Possibly because I grew up during the Depression, he always insisted Iâ€™d have to be able to earn a living. I applied to medical school during World War II when there were few male applicants, which allowed more women (entry) for a brief period.
KM: Why did you choose radiology as a career?
MSF: My husband-to-be talked me into it, but I didnâ€™t know beans about radiology at the time. Itâ€™s funny because I consider myself a feminist of sorts, but Iâ€™ve made a lot of decisions because all these men in my life told me to do it.
KM: What other role models did you have?
MSF: Ross Golden (Goldens Text) and Lois Collins during my radiology residency at Columbia Presbyterian. Some people say that my style of teaching is very similar to hers (Collins)...and of course George Wohl, my first boss.
KM: Where did you do your training?
MSF: I started at Columbia and was married after my first year (of training). My husband was working in Bethesda at the time (during the Korean War), so I commuted two hours each way every day for about a year. I was pregnant during the time, and the train conductor became noticeably more worried each month I was more pregnant. I finally moved to Washington, D.C., where I completed my training at Grover, Christie and Merritt. We moved back to Philadelphia. Because I had done a mixed internship, I couldnâ€™t get a license to work in Philadelphia (as) I didnâ€™t have training in obstetrics which was required at that time to practice. I was delighted to be offered a position at the VA (hospital), where a Pennsylvania license was not required. I stayed in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia General Hospital until it closed, at which time I was functioning as the de facto chairman.
KM: What do you like about radiology?
MSF: I loved radiology from the start! Itâ€™s so much fun, functioning as a consultant, being the â€œheart of the hospital,â€ having your finger on all of the clinical pulses. I started doing everything (in radiology) 20 years ago, but have since concentrated (where I was most needed) in the areas of chest, bone, and mammography.
KM: How did you become interested in teaching medical students and residents?
MSF: Well, I didnâ€™t really have a choice at first. During my first job at the VA, my chairman assigned me to teach the students. Now, I enjoy teaching a great deal. I enjoy the enthusiasm and the information.
KM: What information?
MSF: The senior medical students know all sorts of things I donâ€™t. They teach me a lot and keep me from slipping into an â€œintellectual rutâ€.
KM: What is your greatest achievement in radiology?
MSF: Thatâ€™s easy, winning the Golden Apple Award for Teaching at Temple. (For the record, Dr. Fisher has had numerous other honors, including Fellowship in the American College of Radiology. She is also the past president of the Philadelphia Roentgen Ray Society.)
Dr. Fisher has an active personal life, as well as a busy professional career. The mother of four children and grandmother of eight, she and her husband enjoy music, reading and traveling when they can find the time in their busy schedules.
The author expresses her appreciation to Dr. Fisher for her insight into the life of a women pioneer in the field of radiology.