Dr. Donnelly, a longtime SPR volunteer and former ABR trustee, didn’t latch on to radiology until January of his final medical school year. He was pursuing internal medicine, even applying for residencies.
“I would say my medical career was not well planned,” Dr. Donnelly said, laughing. “That was the same for my decision to go into radiology.”
He was taking a radiology elective course in his final year at the University of Cincinnati and began thinking about the field as a career. Inspired, he approached the radiology residency director there to discuss getting into the program.
The program director told Dr. Donnelly that the last day of interviews was the next day and he had one request.
“He asked me to go home and write an essay on why I wanted to go into radiology and bring all my transcripts and they would interview me the next day,” Dr. Donnelly said.
He was accepted and a new direction began.
“I was lucky to get in and have never regretted the decision one bit,” Dr. Donnelly said.
Now a committed volunteer who’s well established in his pediatric radiology career, Dr. Donnelly recently received the SPR’s Presidential Recognition Award. It’s an honor that means a lot to Dr. Donnelly, who became involved with the organization as a fellow almost 30 years ago.
“The organization is very near and dear to me,” he said. “It’s the organization where I always most wanted to present my scientific work. The SPR means everything to me. It’s a huge award in that respect. I feel greatly honored.”
SPR President Stephen Simoneaux, MD, an ABR trustee and pediatric radiologist in Atlanta, chose Dr. Donnelly for the award because of his educational efforts, quality and safety work, and ABR service.
“Dr. Donnelly has written two core textbooks in pediatric radiology that have served as foundational textbooks for residents and others interested in our field,” Dr. Simoneaux said. “He also has 300 publications and hundreds of national and international lectures and visiting professorships.”
Dr. Donnelly’s responsibilities at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Children’s Hospital include quality and safety. He also served as the first chief medical officer and physician-in-chief at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando and built a medical staff for a new hospital there. Previous positions include radiologist-in-chief at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, chief quality officer at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, and associate dean at Stanford University.
“In each of his many national leadership roles, Dr. Donnelly has built strong programs of quality and safety,” Dr. Simoneaux said.
Dr. Donnelly worked as an ABR oral examiner and served as a trustee for eight years. Dr. Simoneaux said his colleague’s volunteer work played an important role in the SPR award.
“He helped shepherd the transition to new exam formats and initiated the non-interpretive skills section,” he said.
His efforts with the ABR gave Dr. Donnelly a better appreciation for the value of board certification. He said it showed him why it’s important for stakeholders to set the ground rules for becoming certified.
“I would be the first to get in line to argue that self-oversight is important and way better than any of the alternatives,” he said.