Humans are not Just Scans on Screens

Nov 2, 2023

Dr. Manjil Chatterji is a trained radiologist, specializing in abdominal imaging. He describes his work as his “favorite thing in the world” and thinks that teaching other medical professionals is one of the most important aspects of his profession, alongside taking exceptional care of his patients. Chatterji completed his diagnostic radiology residency and chief residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA as part of the Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals.

This week we have the honor of hosting Dr. Chatterji as part of the faculty for the Salzburg Weill Cornell Seminar in Diagnostic Imaging, which is taking place from October 29 to November 4, 2023. As one of the newest members of the faculty, Dr. Chatterji states that he is eager “to contribute to the medical discussion”. His expectations for the seminar’s fellows are that they broaden their horizons, “push their boundaries to see beyond themselves, and foster a sense of community”.

Throughout this week, Chatterji lectured on the thought-provoking topics of “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” and “MR Contrast Agents”, examined one of his medical cases about “Liver Lesions”, and answered various in-depth questions from faculty and fellows alike. In Dr. Chatterji’s opinion, sharing one’s medical expertise with other international professionals is “valuable because it reinforces what I already know, but then it uncovers areas that I did not even know existed”.

However, this is not Dr. Chatterji’s first stay at Schloss Arenberg in Salzburg. Sixteen years ago, the medical professional was part of the AAF Andlinger Exchange Program, which allowed him to spend four weeks at the General Hospital of Vienna. During this time, he joined the OMI Diagnostic Imaging Seminar in Salzburg. Dr. Chatterji recalls his time as a fellow in 2007 with fondness. “I tried to remember where I sat sixteen years ago”, the doctor confides in me. Reminiscing about his time as a fellow, and inevitably comparing it with the present, fills Dr. Chatterji with pride because it makes him realize how far he has come, professionally as well as personally. In his new position as a faculty member, Chatterji states that he hopes to recontribute to the knowledge transfer between faculty and fellows.

When asked about the impact that the fellowship had on his career, Chatterji confidently replied with: “It had a tremendous impact!” The fellowship gave the young radiologist the chance to learn about international practices in radiology, which were “completely different from those back in the United States”, and to share his passion for radiology. Dr. Chatterji portrays his fellowship as a rewarding experience during which he not only gained new medical knowledge, but also life-long friendships. The doctor mentions that after attending the seminar in 2007, he changed his practice habits to focus more on the patients’ needs by taking time to see them in-person as opposed to only examining their images on the computer.

Moreover, the international community, combined with the location of Schloss Arenberg, made the doctor feel as if he were secluded in a supportive bubble with like-minded individuals during the seminar. Dr. Chatterji explains that the most memorable moment during his fellowship was the difficulty of leaving after the seminar. Chatterji explains that “after being here for a week, leaving was really sad. Having made so many friends and sharing our experiences in such a supportive environment just felt like a treat for me. It was a combination of excitement for having been exposed to all this knowledge and a lot of gratitude for everyone’s efforts. Feeling like they had invested all that for me was just amazing!” While talking about his experiences, both past and present, at Schloss Arenberg, Dr. Chatterji’s voice fills with joy and it becomes palpable how much the OMI seminars mean to him.

Being a diagnostic radiologist has its ups and downs. For Dr. Chatterji, some of the highlights of his profession are his ability to “help people by giving them the answers to their questions about their suffering” and the fact that by sharing his expertise, he can “multiply his impact”. He fondly describes this knowledge transfer as “magic”. The biggest challenge that the radiologist faces is the fact that he must be aware of his choice of words constantly. He expands upon this notion by stating: “My words have a massive impact on my patients. Even small word choices, like ‘severe’ or ‘badly progressed’, can make a big difference for a patient.”

Dr. Chatterji strongly believes that “remembering that there are people behind the scans on the computer screen” is crucial for the work that he does. The advice that Manjil Chatterji would give to upcoming radiologists is: “Stay humble. Keep your mind open, practice kindness in all forms, and open your hearts!”