I’ve always been fascinated in learning how each of us
determines a specific career path to pursue. There are many who know early on
(childhood years) what they want to be in life. Others, or dare I say, the vast
majority of us, find ourselves well into our twenties before we discover what
we want to be when we grow up.
I “stumbled” upon the field of Nuclear Medicine while I was
attending college in pursuit of what I thought at the time would be my career
path. I wasn’t actually pursuing my dream at the time, but instead, I was
venturing into something I believed would provide the most financial stability
for the rest of my life.
One day while on campus, I walked into the student union
building and made my way up to the third floor. At the top of the stairs hidden
around a corner was a small section of wall space with a handful of job
listings tacked to a board. Since this was well before the convenience of
internet job postings, this was one of the methods of finding a job at that
time. The ad for a babysitter was not for me, nor was the ad for a “companion”
for a lonely, older woman. Thoughts of other ways I could have wasted my time
began to fill my mind when my eyes fell upon the last job posting.
I was working part-time at night for an insurance company at
the time, so I was simply hoping to find something to pad my income a bit. The
final job posting on that board was for an office runner for a small medical
practice. I called the number right away and was scheduled for an interview.
Little did I know how that job posting was going to change my life.
One of my main job duties was to load a portable Echo
machine into a van, deliver the machine to small clinics around town that did
not have an echo tech or equipment, and prepare the machine for my boss’s arrival
(he was an echo tech who had two companies in one office). After placing the
echo machine in an exam room, I began to walk the hallways of the clinic while
awaiting my boss’s arrival. When I came to a sign that read “Nuclear Medicine,”
I was intrigued and I had to find out more about Nuclear Medicine.
What intrigued me even more was the young woman (just
slightly older than me) who was in charge of the department. I couldn’t help
but wonder what type of hospital department could be run by someone so young.
She introduced me to nuclear medicine, and was kind enough to show me around
I researched the field of Nuclear Medicine and discovered
that there was a school in town. I applied for the program and was accepted on
my first try (for some reason, I thought there would be a waiting list, but the
program was in its infancy at the time, so not many people knew about the
Twenty years later, I can honestly say that the landscape of
Nuclear Medicine has dramatically changed. I started wondering how other techs
chose their current fields of expertise and what kinds of changes they have
witnessed over the years.
A friend of mine who happens to be a CT Tech had this to say
about her profession:
grandparents who were constantly having procedures done in the hospital when I
was a child. Each time I visited them in the hospital, I was captivated by the
X-rays I would see hanging on a view board. I applied to a local X-ray program
which eventually led me to the world of CT. The technology has greatly improved
over the years, and now we have great software in Digital reconstruction vs.
She went on to say,
“The downside to
my career is that the economy has changed the way CT, and many imaging
modalities are perceived. My hours were reduced from 40 hrs per week, to as
little as 24 hours per week quite some time ago. Many staff members are
performing jobs they weren’t hired to do. In an effort to cut costs, employees
with job titles the company decides are not necessary to the practice, are
often times relieved of their jobs. The responsibilities of those jobs are then
placed on current imaging staff to perform (scheduling patients, or verifying
patient appointments, etc). In other words, techs aren’t just responsible for
their job duties; they now have different hats that they wear.”
Another friend of mine, who is a CVT at an outpatient
medical practice, had similar things to say in regards to her profession.
found me more than I discovered it. It has been a very rewarding career for the
last twenty years, and I have noticed some great changes along with some
alarming ones to the field. There have been wonderful advancements in science
resulting in outstanding technology which then leads to better treatment
options. The downside of the failing economy is that it has allowed practices
to place freezes on giving raises, or salary adjustments, while reducing staff
and placing more responsibility on the current employees. Less qualified
personnel who are paid less than the experienced techs are being hired as a
cost saving strategy.”
I enjoy listening to people as each one of them tells me how
they chose their careers. It takes us all back to the beginning, where some of
us struggled more than others to pay the bills. It can be amazing to look back at
where you were in life as you made certain decisions, and think about how much
you have grown in every way. And maybe, just maybe, it can be somewhat
therapeutic to look back and remember what you had to overcome to get to where
you are, and realize that whatever is happening with the economy now, is just
another obstacle to overcome.