Student Spotlight

Hannah Lee and June Berrett, Anchorage are students from Class of 2015 enrolled in the Radiographic Science program at UAA.

For many of the first-year students in the UAA Radiologic Technology Program, this spring semester was most likely the first experience they had working in a hospital or outpatient setting. For the month of March, the Student Spotlight is focusing on two students who were already well-acquainted with hospital protocol and patient care etiquette before starting clinicals back in January. They shared their thoughts on how working in the healthcare field has impacted them. 

Carolyn Tate is a student who has been an Emergency Room Orthopedic Technician at Providence Alaska Medical Center since 2008. Some of her duties include applying casts, teaching patients how to care for their injuries, and working closely with the orthopedic surgeons and nurses. Carolyn is definitely no stranger when it comes to working with injuries to the human body. From working as a student athletic trainer at a young age, to having multiple surgeries and broken bones herself, her experiences come from many perspectives. Carolyn also applies many of the ethics and training she has gained from her firefighter education (EMT-B in 2002) to her duties as an OT and a radiography student at Alaska Regional Hospital. Not only is she knowledgeable when it comes to musculoskeletal injuries and patient communication, she is also strong-willed. Carolyn has overcome many obstacles this past semester. But despite all the hardships and outside influences, her resilient spirit and positive attitude is keeping her focused as our class gets a little closer to graduation.

Here is what she had to say about her experience working in the medical field:

“I love my job of trauma care, and casting or splinting of injured extremities!!  So applying to Radiography Program was very appealing since I would still see acute trauma, and broken bones and providing customer service would be intended for those that are in need.

In firefighting we have a long standing practice of ‘hurry up and wait,’ so I am well versed in that for OR days or waiting for a code over the intercom. I have seen years of trauma and really cool injuries so I am past the ‘deer in the headlights’ phase; I enjoy seeing the ‘blood and the guts.’ As a FF (firefighter), you have to think very mechanically, so when the perfect x-ray patient doesn’t show up at the front counter, I have no issue adjusting to think out of the box to make it happen. I have been praised a few times already from caretakers in the ability to get abnormal x-rays completed with their clients.

Secondly with many years of holding broken bones, I know where is the best place to put my hands at when stabilizing the injury. Small details like proper way to remove clothing, and splints to open wounds for exposure, and how to re-apply wound care dressings or teach the proper application of ace wraps and my favorite acronym called RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for orthopedic injury care.

I was told at my midterm evaluation that anyone can be taught to shoot an x-ray. The positive attitude, and ability to provide patient care is something you have to practice every day and it is not taught just learned through life. So every situation I start with the thought of how I would handle my sweet 91 year old grandmother with Alzheimer’s with this exam request.

Kandis Price is known to her classmates as an individual with a bubbly personality, who is always smiling. Currently, she is working in the Emergency Department as a Patient Access Representative at Mat-Su Regional Center in Palmer. She has held this position for the past nine years. With continual and direct patient contact, she performs diversified tasks and duties associated with outpatient and inpatient communications, and acts as a patient ambassador. Her extensive knowledge pertaining to the healthcare field has been a vital trait that she eagerly shares with fellow classmates. Kandis’ ambitious virtue is clearly evident to everyone around her. She maintains a positive influence to other classmates, and we are motivated by her to develop similar qualities she bestows. This semester, she is utilizing her valuable patient skills as a student at Alaska Native Medical Center for her clinical rotation. Despite her busy schedule of working three twelve-hour shifts at the hospital, clinicals at ANMC, and studying for classes; we were able to grasp the essence of how she is utilizing her fundamental insight of the hospital setting.

Why and how did you end up working in the medical field?

Right out of high school I was accepted into a job working at the Valley Hospital in environmental services (housekeeping). At that point in my life I didn’t know which way I wanted to go in terms of a career path. However, I found myself really enjoying working for the cooperation. I enjoyed being around the medical staff and patients. I knew then that I wanted to venture towards the medical field. Eight months after my hire there was an opportunity for me to move to the Emergency Department working as a patient access representative, and I took the opportunity. After working now in my position for 9 years, I’ve decided to move towards radiology.  

Did any of these jobs influence you in any way to apply for the radiologic technology program?

Yes, working closely with the Imaging Department, and seeing the technologists in the emergency room at the facility has definitely influenced my decision. Watching the enjoyment the technologists have working in their profession has played a major role. My coworkers are my extra push. They’re always encouraging and very eager to teach me, and now that I’m in the program we go over new things I’ve learned weekly.

How beneficial do you think the skills you’ve acquired at your past/current jobs has helped you as a radiography student?

My background in the hospital setting has helped me with the terminology and understanding how a large medical facility functions.

My background in customer service has helped me when dealing with difficult patients.

Do you think there are any other advantages you have over those who don’t have any health care experience?  Are there any disadvantages?

Yes, it’s experience and I feel any experience in the health field would be beneficial coming into this program… working in an emergency room and having developed a strong background in customer service communication has an advantage when it comes to dealing with disgruntled patients and doctors. Also, working in close contact with the Radiology Department, has given me the opportunity to observe many procedures.

Disadvantages, I have more of a bias opinion on patient usage of medical facilities especially usage of the Emergence Department. I would have to say I am less sympathetic towards problems patients may have because of their own doing.

Compare the team dynamic you have now at your current job with what you are experiencing now in clinicals. (Teamwork or more individual work?)

The dynamic is similar in the aspect that patient care comes first. In both settings teamwork is the key to success. If there was no teamwork many mistakes would be made, and could potentially harm the patient.  In my work setting I have to rely on my coworker to do their part so I can do mine, and it vice versa.

With the knowledge you have as a healthcare worker; do you find yourself with a different moral conduct than other students or new grads?

Yes, because I know what a healthcare facility expects of its employees, and I know the repercussions of what would happen if bad judgment is used and rules are not followed.

Are there some healthcare-related issues/problems you have seen working in this type of environment that others who may not have as much exposure might not know about?

Patient information would have to be the biggest one…It’s very easy to get carried away when talking about a procedure you have seen for the first time, and it is very easy to forget your surroundings.

Describe how it has been for you to balance school, your personal life, and two different healthcare working environments (your job and clinicals).

Extremely difficult….. On the days I’m not in class or in clinic I’m at work working 12 hours shift. It has helped to come early on the days I have class and use that time for my homework. I try and set a day aside a week depending on how my work and school schedule is that week to spend time with my family. I have learned not to let the small thing worry me because everything will get done eventually.

Medical Imaging Professionals in Alaska

Alaska Society of Radiologic Technologists