Nancy Nice, MBA RT(R)(M)(MR), began her healthcare career as an x-ray technician, after a detour as an editor, but it certainly didn’t stop there. Now one of three managers of diagnostic radiology at Lancaster General Hospital she recently celebrated her 25th anniversary with the hospital system.
When a computer replaced her editing position she followed her sister into radiology as she liked the variety the specialty offers. “You see different patients and pathologies every day and perform different procedures,” says Nice.
Nice spent three years as an x-ray technician, then decided to augment her skills with a mammography specialty. This addition was achieved through on-the-job training to learn the anatomy, pathology and correct patient positioning, followed by board certification. Certification is maintained through the performance of a minimum number of mammograms annually and taking a specified number of continuing education credits every year. Credits may be obtained through a variety of offerings: conferences, online and/or weekend college seminars. Competency takes about a year.
Mammograms are an intimate patient exam. “You have to be able to very calm and talk to them. Patients are very scared when they come in so connecting with them, even for the ten minutes of the procedure, is important while obtaining the correct positions and keeping their dignity,” says Nice.
In 2004 Nice enhanced her skills once more with a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) certification, again through on-the-job training. She also attended class as the physics of the machine and safety are different than with any other imaging method. Also part of the education process was understanding cross-sectional anatomy. Recognizing the anatomy and how each image should look differs with each modality from x-ray to mammography to MRI.
Learning the MRI machine took at least a month, she says. Following that procedures are performed under supervision. The licensing board reviews submissions to ensure that the various types of images have been correctly performed prior to the student taking the certification assessment.
Moving up through a supervisory position into her current managerial role, Nice believes that her hands-on experience and variety of positions has trained her to handle just about any issue that arises to help a patient get through a procedure. She manages approximately 30 people and deals with everything from scheduling to reviews to supplies. Her current supervisory scope right now encompasses x-ray, fluoroscopy, and interim management of the department breast center.
Recommending radiology is easy for her as there as so many different avenues of possible specialization, and radiographers can work in any number of settings from ERs to stand-alone facilities. Important to her as well was the tuition reimbursement she received and the support she felt from the hospital during her education from Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences.
The future outlook for radiographers is strong, estimated at 13 percent national growth between 2016 and 2026. In Pennsylvania that translates to a need for almost 640 technicians a year and 19 per year locally in Lancaster. Published PA College of Education job placement statistics show 100 percent job placement for the last five years for their graduates.
Median salary in Lancaster County is $50,450, 39 percent higher than the median for all jobs in the county of $36,380.
When considering any healthcare career Nice suggests shadowing to gain a greater perspective of the true nature and duties of the job.
Bill Rhinier, PA College of Education director of admissions agrees, "Shadowing is an excellent way to be introduced to a new profession, especially in health care. With so many different, fascinating fields, we recommend shadowing to our students - not just in the clinical setting, but also in the classroom and on campus, so they can truly experience what it will mean to pursue a career in health care.”
PA College program directors help facilitate shadowing so potential students can visit when current students are on a clinical rotation. The visitors can simultaneously see the job from a clinical as well as a student perspective.
Arrangements are handled by Lancaster General Hospital. Information on the various specialties and requirements is available at lghealthjobs.com.
To explore any area of interest visit PA College where you can also connect to an admissions counselor. Or arrange to attend the next open house on September 11 to chat with faculty and learn more about the programs. Please visit PA College Events for more information and to register.
Whether you choose radiology like Nice or another specialty take the time to make your career choice an informed one.
Why I Became is an occasional series in LNP and LancasterOnline profiling Lancaster County working people and the paths that led them to their current careers. To inquire about a specific career you may send your request to email@example.com