The title on Erin O’Neill, MD’s business card reads “Attending Radiologist.” But it could just as accurately say “Puzzle Solver.”
That’s because Dr. O’Neill uses MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s array of state-of-the-art imaging technologies to help other physicians diagnose and treat a variety of illnesses, from the routine to more complex, medically challenging conditions.
“We see all the best cases,” Dr. O’Neill says. “That’s a privilege not all other specialties have, but it also keeps us on our toes.”
Originally from Minnesota, Dr. O’Neill considered training in surgery until she became fascinated with radiology’s procedural and analytical aspects. After medical school and internship at Creighton University Medical Center, it was on to Chicago where she completed a radiology residency at Rush University Medical Center, where she served as chief resident. Dr. O’Neill remained in the Windy City for an MRI Predominant Body Imaging and Musculoskeletal fellowship at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Training at some of the country’s leading research centers for radiology helped prepare Dr. O’Neill for keeping up with a technologically fast-paced field.
“It does require a lot of reading, and a lot of collaboration with my colleagues here at the Hospital Center and at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” she says, “but the strides that have been made in both the quality of imaging and patient safety are amazing.”
Body MRI, for which Dr. O’Neill serves as the Hospital Center’s associate director, is one of the fields most widely used tools, as it can provide extremely clear, detailed scans without the use of radiation. Still, not all patients are comfortable with the procedure, which often involves spending long periods in an enclosed tube.
“We do what we can to make them comfortable and feel at ease during the procedure,” Dr. O’Neill says. “We also look for the best alternative to evaluate a particular condition, such as using ultrasound for younger patients to limit their cumulative radiation doses.”
Outside the Hospital
Dr. O’Neill could easily add another business card title, “Mom.” She and her husband, who works in finance and real estate for a national accounting firm, love spending time with their 2-year old son and the family dog. But while they enjoy the attractions of the Nation’s Capital, they’ve also gotten to know the area’s airports quite well.
“We’re both from the Midwest, so we travel back often to see family and friends,” Dr. O’Neill explains. “There are a lot of places that we get to call ‘home.’”