How I Fail S02E12 – Prof. Lexie Ali (Educator, Diagnostic Radiology / Medical Imaging)

Prof. Lexie Ali is a Deaf-HOH Radiology Educator who runs a free educational organization : MRI Buzz https://www.mribuzz.com – designed to provide educational support, resources, and networking opportunities in one place for students or medical imaging professionals with lesser credentials.  

She has an additional background in Pre-medicine from Loyola University Chicago and University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. While in the field, Prof. Ali authored many articles endorsing her colleagues and dear friends’ various educational programs. 

Prof. Ali co-owns MRI Buzz with her close friend – Matt Rederer. She is also an avid MR Safety Advocate / Speaker and hosts her own web series – “Let’s Talk MR Safety with Lexie” – on multiple social media channels.  

Furthermore, Prof. Ali sits on the Society of Magnetic Resonance Imaging – International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine : SMRT-ISMRM’s Global Relations Board, helping to translate Radiology-specific Educational Webinars for individuals situated in other countries. She continues to author pending academic papers and/or assist colleagues with such papers/presentations and is also pursuing higher academic/educational prospects at UW-Milwaukee.

Hi Lexie, thanks for joining How I Fail! Next to your official bio, could you say a bit more about yourself? 

I am a Deaf-HOH Radiology Educator. I run my own free Educational Organization : MRI Buzz – https://www.mribuzz.com – and a Podcast: Let’s Talk MR Safety with Lexie –  https://www.youtube.com/c/mribuzz – on my official YouTube channel – to  advocate for safer patient care in MRI – along with side blogs/webcasts for inclusion in Medicine. I am also a DEI advocate with the goal of creating more inclusive spaces for Women and Deaf-HOH in Radiology, ER and OR spaces. That is also the reason why I sit on the SMRT-ISMRM Global Relations Board : I seek to include more diversity-based spaces in Imaging Education. Additionally, I love to expand in terms of academic prospects – so I aim to do more in terms of Diagnostic Radiology and completing the required prerequisites and residency for that. I am a little private with regards to my career and academic prospects but, my overall goal is to go higher than where I am. 

What’s a memorable failure for you?

My most memorable failure would be having had my facility closed for rotations during my final year of med school and then having had to struggle to find placements in time to graduate with my class. 

This was memorable for me because I was depressed to the point where I lost faith in God and felt the futility behind hard work. However, my Grandpa, who passed from COVID would always say things happen for a reason and that closed doors, lead to better windows of opportunities. This rang true – because after months of searching – I was able to find a teaching hospital with hands-on experience in terms of patient care and medical imaging. Being deaf, it is twice as hard to learn patient care, in fast and noisy spaces as hospitals. However, I was quite fortunate to have found a teaching hospital that was very accommodating to my communication needs as a deaf healthcare professional. Closed doors really lead to better windows. 

What do you think about sharing failures?

I think sharing failures is, uniformly, a good thing in the sense of inspiration to others who might have similar lived experiences. However, there are some caveats in that it might lead to judgment or micro-aggressions from some individuals who might view such openness as sensitivity or vulnerability. 

Are there any other topics we (collectively) are avoiding, that we need to discuss more often?

I think we are avoiding solution-oriented approach to social / political issues around us today – and instead – resort to negativity/ ‘bashing’ of said issues. For instance;  there’s more talk of ‘why racism is an evil virtue’ or ‘why Black Lives Matter dialogue is essential’ than ‘what training can be offered’ or ‘how law enforcement officials can be screened’ prior to being placed in service. We need to be discussing / having more solution-oriented dialogues. Everyone knows and talks about why something is happening but no one is talking about what can be done to prevent the something that’s happening. 

Is the situation changing? Do you see differences, for example across different fields? 

Yes, especially in Radiology, I am seeing more inclusive spaces for Women Radiologists. In an industry, that is heavily male-dominated, I am seeing a change in attitudes/mindset and acceptance/inclusion in spaces/field traditionally reserved for men. 

Is there anything that you are currently failing at yourself? 

At the moment, I am failing at striking the right balance between work and personal life. As with the pandemic, things are slower and it takes longer to finish tasks these days. So; that is the thing I am definitely failing at. 

If your ideas about failure have changed since you started doing research, who or what has been influential for this?

My Grandpa and my parents have been influential in changing my mindset and attitude towards failure. I used to think of failures as the end of everything that should have been going for you.  But really, it is the beginning of long-term success / success in the long run. 

Are failures something you discuss with the people you supervise/mentor?

Yes, I do. I have a lot of mentor figures in my field – Diagnostic Radiology. My first ever mentor was – Notable Radiologist – Dr. Emanuel Kanal – And everything I have learned and achieved today with regards to Diagnostic Medicine – Medical Imaging – is because he too – taught me to view failures as an opportunity to reinvent myself and come back stronger, harder. 

What types of things – successes, failures, habits, mood etc – do you keep track regularly, why/why not?

The one habit I keep track of daily is : Reading. 

And it is this habit that brought about my hidden talent for writing – which has gone a long way – in terms of collaborations with notable individuals across various fields. 

Keeping track of anything: be it success, failure, or a habit does go a long way in helping you accomplish what you set out for and more. 

Should we be sharing more successes? Not just traditional ones like jobs or papers, but what you are proud of today ?

Yes, we should be sharing more successes. Even the small ones. 

I remember – in the early 90s – in India : when I used to visit my Grandpa – those days we had a dial-up landline phone: which would randomly stop working. And the same happened, one such day. My grandpa walked all the way to the operator headquarters to get the service back. And when he returned, it did: we celebrated our phone working with great pomp and show. When you celebrate the smaller successes, they actually help you be satisfied if failures come your way and/or enjoy bigger successes better. 

What is such a non-traditional, recent success for you?

Being surprisingly good at hip-hop dancing. I actually do a lot of such dance duets with notable choreographers on TikTok and I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I would be good at setting up my TikTok page. 

Are there also reasons to not share (some) successes?

While sharing successes is a good thing in terms of inspiration for those struggling to achieve the same – there comes a point – where you deliberately DO NOT want to share the same successes : because sometimes the same success can remain incomplete in the form of obstacles because of the rush to take up space and competition as thus.

What would a ten year younger you think of you now? 

A ten year younger me would think of me as a stronger, emotionally mature person, who is satisfied with both failures and success – rather than the rush to ‘be something’.

What advice would you give to that person? 

I would advise the younger me to exercise more patient and be satisfied with what comes my way. 

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