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Radiology and me — little town, big dream job

Erica Johnson

If you asked my family what my response was to the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” they’ll tell you it changed every week; which is true. One undertone of every job I could envision myself doing was one involving patient care. I have always wanted to do something in healthcare, it comes with the territory of having both parents work in the medical field.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere where we had to travel at least 30 minutes to the nearest McDonalds. We did, however, have a hospital in my town which was not even two minutes away from my house. My mom is an RN and my dad is a radiologic technologist. My dad spends his days taking x-rays and CT scans at a local hospital. I might be a little biased, but –my dad is amazing.

He has been working in the field of medical imaging for over 30 years and his knowledge in the field is inspiring. When I was younger, on occasion, I would go to work with my dad. When it was the first of the month, he would show me all of the quality control testing that was completed on the imaging equipment. I was always intrigued with my dad’s work.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to go to college for when I was in my senior year of high school. It wasn’t until my English teacher assigned a research project that I discovered where my true passion lies. I decided to do my report on CT scan.

My dad printed off some of his continuing education lessons for me to reference and utilize for the project. The articles that I read for the project and the experiences that I had with my dad in the medical imaging department at our small town hospital solidified my decision to pursue the radiologic technology program at FM.

After high school, I applied to the radiologic technology program at FM. To say I was nervous is an understatement.

Attending the radiologic technology program at FM was my only plan and I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t get accepted. Luckily, I received a letter in the mail saying that I had an interview for the program. I was beyond ecstatic! On the day of the interview, I learned about the program and its expectations, was introduced to program faculty, and heard about further opportunities that the field of medical imaging has to offer. At the end of the interview, my head was spinning. I began to formulate scenario after scenario of all of the potential possibilities to come. I received a letter from admissions — I was accepted into the program! I rushed to the hospital to show my dad with complete excitement.

In no time, classes were starting and I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Coursework was rigorous and things were moving quickly. At first, I was driving to my parent’s house to work at my job that I’ve had since high school, but I needed to find something closer to the college.

St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam was my freshman clinical site assignment and I had heard of an opening for a weekend CT scan transporting aide position. I got a call and I was hired for the position. I loved this job. It gave me a different perspective into the field of medical imaging and expanded my knowledge on the CT scan imaging modality.

My role in this position was to assist the CT scan technologist with transporting patients, documenting patient health histories and other administrative tasks.

There were a few occasions where I worked directly with Mr. Bailey, clinical coordinator and instructor of the radiologic technology program at FM, who still works at St. Mary’s in x-ray and CT scan per diem. I looked forward to these shifts because Mr. Bailey would put his teacher hat on and explain why the exam was completed a certain way or why he approached the exam a specific way. He helped me understand aspects of the job that I saw the technologist do but didn’t fully understand previously.

In February of 2020, my radiologic technology class and I had the opportunity to attend a “Modality Day” hosted by Albany Medical Center (AMC).

At this event, department supervisors spoke to us about their imaging departments and we were able to tour each unique medical imaging modality. When we toured the CT scan department, the clinical supervisor had mentioned that there were a few openings, including a full-time Monday through Friday evening shift. I was sold.

This was my dream job and I knew that I wanted to work at AMC. At the same time of the event at AMC, we were working on developing resumes in one of the radiologic technology classes.

I geared my resume specifically for the CT scan technologist position and submitted my application.

A few weeks later, I interviewed for the position. At the interview, I reminded myself of everything my instructors had said to prepare me over the last year and a half.

I am proud to say, that I have accepted the full-time evening CT scan position at Albany Medical Center that will begin after I graduate. None of this would’ve been possible without the continuous support from my mentors — my Instructors on campus and my dad. I am looking forward to following in my father’s footsteps in a field that I love.

— Erica Johnson is a FMCC radiologic technology senior student. Johnson and three of her fellow graduating classmates have been hired in the medical imaging department at Albany Medical Center.

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