Fite pursues pediatric radiology with fellowship in Kansas City
Cherokee Nation citizen John Fite performs an ultrasound on a pregnant patient as part of his training to become a pediatric radiologist. COURTESY
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Since he was 19 years old, Cherokee Nation citizen John Fite has worked toward becoming a pediatric radiologist, enduring several years of medical school, one residency and starting his first fellowship.
A radiologist is a physician who interprets images such as radiographs, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasounds, Fite said.
“If you go to any other doctor and they order an imaging test, a radiologist looks at the images and writes a report to help the other doctors get an idea for what’s going on inside of you,” he said. “We end up working a lot as consultants or ‘the physician’s physician.’”
He said radiology allows a balance of having patient interaction and direct care, but also time to recharge, dubbing himself a “social introvert.”
“A lot of my day to day work does involve sitting in front of a computer screen looking through thousands of images for abnormalities, looking up and reading through medical literature, and dictating reports on what I see to help guide clinicians in their patient care,” Fite said.
It was after high school when Fite began his journey. He completed four years at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, another four years at OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, a one-year internship with Internal Medicine with OUHSC and a four-year residency at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
He recently moved to Kansas City with his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Fite, and daughter, Genevieve, to begin a year-long fellowship with the University of Missouri Kansas City.
“I was chief resident the last two years and spent part of my time working at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” Fite said. “This year for fellowship, I’m in Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Hospital.”
Fite’s passion for medicine stems from family and friends in the medical field.
“It was always on the radar for me as an option,” he said. “My grandfather retired from urology in Muskogee when I was really young. I also grew up playing soccer with the sons of Dr. Perez and Dr. Suarez, both of whom work at (W.W.) Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah along with their wives. They were all very open and encouraging to me when I showed any interest in health care.”
Though Fite originally wanted to work with kids as a science teacher, he said pediatric radiology would allow him to still work with kids and in the medical field.
“At the end of the day, something about medicine kept pulling at me, especially once I realized I could still teach as a doctor,” he said. “I’d had some really good experiences with teachers in the Tahlequah school system and really could see myself going back and trying to have the same impact on young people that they had with me.”
He said although there are radiology subspecialties such as neuroradiology, musculoskeletal, nuclear medicine, women’s imaging, cardiovascular imaging and interventional radiology, pediatrics is the one that appealed to him.
“Most radiologists pick a subspecialty of some sort now because there is just so much medicine that it’s impossible to know it all,” he said. “Pediatrics lets me continue doing most of that variety but just with a focus on diseases that happen primarily in kids.”
For his fellowship, Fite said he plans to learn as much as possible about pediatric imaging and then find a job doing both imaging and teaching.
“Long term I’d like to end up working at an academic institution both for reading imaging and for teaching medical students and residents,” he said. “There are not that many pediatric radiologists in general, and especially few in the center of the country in states like Oklahoma where we only have a few dedicated pediatric radiologists across the entire state. So ideally, I’d like to end up back at OUHSC in Oklahoma City working, teaching, and providing a service that the medical community in Oklahoma has been short on since before I was born.”