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Kathy Wilets

Phone: 801-581-5717

Jan 20, 2015 9:15 AM

When Paula Woodward, MD, learned she had been named Outstanding Educator of the Year by the Radiological Society of North America, she felt like she had won an Oscar.

“People go into academics for different reasons. For me it was always about teaching. I take the hard work of academic research teams and translate it to residents,” said Woodward, who is a professor in the Department of Radiology at University of Utah Health Care. “So being acknowledged for that by our largest national society was really a thrill.”

In her 24 years of teaching more than 1,000 students, she has come to believe that her work is really about training the future.

Medicine doesn’t stop with any of us,” Woodward said. “To me, to pass along some of the insights I’ve gained in my career to the next generation is a big deal. I hope I do a good job as they will be taking care of me someday.

This isn’t the first time Woodward has been acknowledged for her exceptional teaching skills. She’s received Teacher of the Year three times at the University of Utah radiology department. A previous recognition came from the University of Maryland. And two other awards were from her time at Wilford Hall U.S. Air Force Medical Center.

As she sees it, radiology is a lot like detective work.

“I don’t think teaching facts should be the primary focus,” Woodward said. “What I try to convey to my residents is an approach and a way of thinking about a disease, a condition — about how you can put all the little things together to make a diagnosis.”

Woodward currently works half-time at the U and half-time at Amirsys, a radiology data company in Salt Lake City. While at the U, she teaches abdominal and obstetrical imaging to residents and fellows, both in radiology and maternal fetal medicine. She was previously at the U from 1992 until 1999 then served as Distinguished Scientist at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in 1999. Woodward then stayed on teaching at AFIP until 2005 before returning to the U.

Woodward is currently working on the third edition of her book, “Diagnostic Imaging: Obstetrics,” which is an image-rich book used in fetal imaging.

She hopes students remember her as someone who made learning fun while serving as a good example for professionalism with a love of learning.

“I think a good teacher is one who constantly challenges but never intimidates. I want to constantly push the envelope on resident education,” Woodward said.