Mayo Clinic Alumni Association – Know Your Board – Molly Carnahan, M.D.
Provides leadership | Makes policy decisions | Decides strategic direction and vision
Molly Carnahan, M.D. (RD ’22)
Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education representative
President, Mayo Fellows’ Association, Mayo Clinic in Arizona
Resident, Department of Radiology
Residency: Department Radiology, Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, Phoenix, Arizona
Medical school: University of Missouri-Kansas City
Undergraduate: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Native of: Springfield, Missouri
I knew from a young age I wanted to do something in health care and spent time in high school in a health scholars shadowing program. My grandfather and aunt are dentists, so that was a lot of my early exposure to health care. In college, I thought I’d pursue dentistry. The summer after my sophomore year, I went on a dental volunteer trip to Leh, India, where I spent a month working alongside dentists and oral surgeons. That trip confirmed that I wanted to do something in health care. I loved every moment of it but found myself wanting to spend more time in the medical clinic. I took this as a sign that I should think about medical school instead. A few days after getting back from India, I had acute appendicitis, which was my first exposure to the OR. The speed with which primary care provider and the on-call surgeon made the diagnosis, got me to the OR and had me feeling better the next day was remarkable. I started shadowing more physicians and realized that was a better fit for me. The rest is history. I took the MCAT the following year and continued shadowing and doing research projects.
Why Mayo Clinic
I applied to general surgery residency programs during medical school, including Mayo Clinic. I was attracted to Mayo’s reputation and the small atmosphere of the program. It also doesn’t hurt that I interviewed here in January and got to sit outside for the interview dinner. I loved the mentorship model with a one-on-one staff relationship. Within the first month of residency, I was one-on-one with an attending in the operating room. That’s unheard of.
A couple of months into my residency, I decided to switch to radiology. I liked the OR but didn’t love the hours or the intensity. During a 28-hour shift, I met a radiology resident who helped mentor me into considering radiology. Deciding to switch was terrifying and one of the hardest decisions I have made. I knew 25% of surgery residents across the country switch to another specialty, but the unknown and potentially having to leave Mayo made the decision tough. With the support of my peers and my staff, I went through the match that year and was fortunate enough to match here at Mayo in Arizona.
Radiology is a relatively new residency program at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. About half of the residents are former surgery residents, so I felt right at home. In radiology, we see patients and do a lot of procedures but have a decent lifestyle and hours. I love working with my former surgery co-residents on call, and I am so thankful for my intern year at Mayo, which allowed me to meet a lot of the other trainees throughout the hospital. I am also very thankful I got to stay at Mayo in Arizona because the resources available to trainees here are unheard of at other institutions.
This is a busy year. I take boards in June 2021 and rotating on clinical services to prepare. I’m applying for fellowships and hoping to stay at Mayo Clinic. I’m currently involved in several research projects with the breast division. I also like working in medical student education. Another resident and I revamped some of their curriculum, offering virtual rotations during COVID. We’ve also developed new curriculum for interns for their radiology rotation.
Ultimately, I want to work in breast radiology at an academic medical center, where I can see patients, do procedures and teach trainees. As a breast radiologist, you’re often the first medical professional to tell a patient they have a suspicious mass — the comforting face who tells the patient what it means and what the next steps are.
I hope to learn about the Alumni Association and how it can help me and my peers stay involved with Mayo Clinic no matter where I am. The Alumni Association sponsors wellness-related events for the Mayo Fellows’ Association, such as the Life After Residency program and a recruitment fair. We really appreciate the support.
My fiancé just moved here, so we’re spending time together and trying our hands at cooking. I like to spend time with friends and family, and get together with others in the radiology program.
In summer, it’s 116 degrees in Phoenix, and gyms are closed because of the pandemic, so you can’t do much. Before COVID, I liked to work out and run outdoors. I also like to bake, including cupcakes from scratch and snickerdoodle cookies. For another creative outlet, I paint my own wrapping paper and decorative gift boxes with acrylics.
My parents divorced when I was in preschool. My best friend in kindergarten and I set up our parents. They got married and are still together, 24 years later. My friend and I thought it would be fun for us to live together — that was our motivation. The reality wasn’t what we’d pictured! We disliked each other for a while, but we’re best friends again.