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Welcome to The Work Day, a series that charts a single day in various women’s working lives — from gallery owners to stay-at-home parents to chief executives. In this installment, we hear from vascular and interventional radiologist Aparna Baheti, who recorded a workday in January.

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Name: Aparna Baheti

Age: 34

Location: Tacoma, Wash.

Job title: Vascular and interventional radiologist (VIR)

Previous jobs: I went to medical school, residency and fellowship at the University of Virginia. After that, I worked as a VIR in Wisconsin before finding my current job.

What led me to my current role: The most influential factor for me becoming a VIR was my exposure to the field during medical school. The doctors I worked with were superstars. I learned how to stop life-threatening bleeding, kill cancers and fix pain all over the body via just pinhole incisions, wires, and catheters. It seemed like magic to me and I was hooked almost instantaneously. I trained for four years of medical school, five years of radiology residency, and one year of vascular interventional fellowship to get to where I am now.

How I spend the majority of my workday: Every day of the week is different for me. One to two days I spend working in our outpatient-based lab doing procedures outside of the hospital. Three days a week, I work at one of the hospitals in our area. We cover two Level-2 trauma centers and many small community hospitals. The bulk of my time in the hospital is spent doing procedures and reading CT scans and X-rays between cases.

The procedures I do span from basic (removing fluid accumulation from the abdomen in patients with liver disease) to lifesaving (removing large blood clots from the arteries that feed the lung). At any given time, an emergent case could present itself, and my staff and I will have to drop everything to save a life. For example, a trauma patient came in with life-threatening bleeding from deep in her pelvis, and I had to work quickly to find the bleeding artery, and inject something to stop it from bleeding. When I’m successful, it’s so fulfilling. The patients go from unstable to stable in an instant. I have to be knowledgeable about so many different disease processes and comfortable dealing with very sick patients.

My workday

6:30 a.m.: I wake up when my 1-year-old wakes up. I nurse her and get ready for my day. My 4-year-old wakes up sometime before 7, too. I get the kids breakfast and get ready for work. My nanny comes at 7 and I head out of the house by 7:15.

7:30 a.m.: I am at the outpatient procedure center today. I arrive and review the cases for the day. I check in with my nurses and see if they have any patient issues that they need help sorting out.

8 a.m.: By this time, I have consented my first patient and they are setting up the procedure room and prepping the patient. I catch a bite to eat and down the rest of my coffee.

8-9 a.m.: I do a kyphoplasty, a procedure where I inject cement into a fractured spinal bone. Patients often have immediate pain relief after the procedure. My goal is to get them off narcotics at home and help them get back to their pre-fracture activities. The case goes well, and I let the patient’s daughter know.

Reviewing a case for a potential cancer treatment. I can treat some cancers in the liver by injecting chemotherapy directly into the patient’s arteries with precision. (Courtesy of Aparna Baheti; Washington Post illustration)
Reviewing a case for a potential cancer treatment. I can treat some cancers in the liver by injecting chemotherapy directly into the patient’s arteries with precision. (Courtesy of Aparna Baheti; Washington Post illustration)

9-10 a.m.: Consented and performed the next case, a port placement. This is one of the most straightforward procedures I do, but it has a huge impact on my patients’ lives. I love putting ports in, but I love taking them out even more. Taking out a port means my patient is done with their treatment and can get back to their life. There’s a celebratory aspect in that.

10-11 a.m.: I take out an IVC filter. This is a temporary device that is used to stop blood clots from getting to the lungs. This procedure is kind of like a video game. I have to get a snare around the hook of a filter and then pull it out through a hole in the neck.

11 a.m.-noon: I do a quick biopsy and read some cases. I always have to remember that although biopsies are routine for me, they are not routine for the patient. The patient comes to my clinic and trusts me with their life. I work my hardest to make my patients as comfortable as possible and assuage any anxiety they may have about their procedures.

Noon-1 p.m.: My clinic staff eats lunch during this hour, so we don’t do any cases. I have a working lunch, reading imaging studies and answering emails. I often get phone calls from other doctors during this time, asking me to give my opinion on a case.

With my medical assistant, Misty. I wear lead during my procedures to protect me from scatter radiation. (Courtesy of Aparna Baheti; Washington Post illustration)
With my medical assistant, Misty. I wear lead during my procedures to protect me from scatter radiation. (Courtesy of Aparna Baheti; Washington Post illustration)

1-4 p.m.: My PA comes in the afternoon, and we work together to see patients in our clinic. These are patients who have been referred to us to have a procedure done or have already had their procedure and we are following up with next steps. This afternoon, I have a patient who I am really looking forward to seeing. She had an obstruction of one of the veins in her body and a put a stent in to relieve it. I can already tell when I see her that she seems much better than when I first met her a couple months back. She is effusive and thankful for the care we have provided her. She said it’s the first time in years that she hasn’t had leg swelling and can finally get back to the activities that she enjoyed before leg pain and blood clots got in the way. I check her surgical site and send her on her way.

5:30 p.m.: I get home. My girls always scramble to the door to give me a big hug. My amazing nanny is cooking dinner. She heads home, and I play with the girls until my husband gets home.

6-9:30 p.m.: We enjoy family time, which usually involves pretend play or art with my 4-year-old. My 1-year-old just learned how to crawl up the stairs, and she loves practicing her new skill. The girls go to bed around 8, and my husband and I hang out for an hour or two before we go to bed around 9:30.

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