Radiologist Spotlight: Michael J Hewitt, MD

In News, Physician Spotlight by Addison Clark

Shortly after Dr. Michael J. Hewitt, a board-certified diagnostic radiologist, launched his career with Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg (RAF) in 1982, he was advised of RAF’s belief in the “Five A’s” of best practices in radiology: accuracy, availability, accountability, affability, and affordability. Over his three decades of service with RAF, the Five A’s have continued to be unwavering guideposts and keys to his longevity with the group.

Medicine runs in the family, three generations back. Dr. Hewitt’s great grandmother served as a midwife in the Catskill Mountains, and his great aunt was a nurse in WWII. He grew up in dairy country, in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. With initial plans to be a veterinarian, Dr. Hewitt followed his passion for science at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Oneonta. “At first, I was hesitant to be a human doctor,” Dr. Hewitt recalled. “I felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities involved. After some soul searching, I convinced myself that I could be as good a doctor as anyone if I worked hard and cared.”

He went on to graduate from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1978, and then attended Duke University to complete his internship and residency in diagnostic radiology. The seventh doctor to join RAF, Dr. Hewitt was asked to assume the role of physician director of ultrasound, taking over from the initial directorship of one of his senior associates, Donald Allen, MD. Dr. Hewitt held this post for 20 years. He then became physician director of OB/GYN imaging in 2002, passing this baton five years later to his new colleague, Neil Patil, MD. In his first 15 years with RAF, Dr. Hewitt served as a member of RAF’s interventional radiology team, directed by Ted Glass, MD. He has also held a variety of leadership positions, including president of the medical staff at Mary Washington Hospital, chairman of the hospital’s department of radiology, and president of RAF.

Through the years, Dr. Hewitt has observed remarkable changes in the practice. “When I came on board in ‘82, we had one ultrasound machine and one technologist, at one site, Mary Washington Hospital,” he said. “Now, we have many machines at many sites, along with dozens of certified ultrasound technologists, who in many ways work like physicians assistants with RAF.” Also, the number of physicians in the group has grown more than six times over, from five to 33.

Today, Dr. Hewitt spends two-thirds of his time interpreting images and caring for patients at the Imaging Center for Women, a partnership between RAF and Mary Washington Healthcare. Procedures range from diagnostic mammography and breast ultrasound and biopsy to pelvic sonography. The rest of his time is divided between other outpatient facilities and the department of radiology at Mary Washington Hospital, where he has full on-call responsibilities.

Dr. Hewitt and his wife of 36 years, Barbara, are owners of Sweet Promise Farm in Stafford, where Barbara raises Morgan horses. “Barbara thought of the ‘Sweet Promise’ name when we were young,” Dr. Hewitt noted. “A line in her favorite hymn, ‘How Great Thou Art,’ mentions God having a promise for all of us. It spoke to our dream of having a farm together some day.” The couple has three grown children: Meghan, John, and Amanda, who live nearby.

When he is not on the job or helping Barbara on the farm, Dr. Hewitt reads (historical novels, along with books about religion and philosophy), plays the piano, cooks, and “tools around or lumbers around, as the case may be” in one of a few antique vehicles he was given over the years. They include a 1934 John Deere tractor from his father and grandfather, and a 1931 Model A Ford Coupe from his uncle.

Dr. Hewitt looks forward to his 30th year with RAF and with Mary Washington Healthcare associates. “Learning never stops,” he said. “Nor does the satisfaction of calling on years of experience to assist referring doctors in helping their patients avoid disease, or conquer it.”