Abigail Loudon graduated from Cleveland University-Kansas City in December 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Radiologic Technology. Although she had no family members employed in healthcare, and no medical issues of her own to sway her decision, she knew that her calling was to help others. Loudon first learned about becoming a radiologic technologist (rad tech) during a career shadowing program in high school. She was intrigued by the technical aspects of the profession, but she also knew she would enjoy playing a critical role as part of a medical team. She knows she made the right career decision. Other certifications Loudon can pursue include: mammography, computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans, or radiation therapy, so she is excited about her future.
Q. Why did you choose a healthcare profession?
A. I chose to go into healthcare because I have a passion for wanting to help people in some way. I get to take the X-rays that help diagnose an ill or injured patient, which then gets them the proper help they need to get better. It’s important to me because I am a very driven individual who wants to make a difference in people’s lives.
Q. Many times, people can trace their career choice back to a particular time or experience in their life. What moment or life experience directed you to a career in radiologic technology?
A. My senior year of high school, I did a program called “Northland CAPS.” I got to shadow a large number of careers in healthcare throughout my first semester. Radiology caught my attention the most, so after I graduated high school, I looked into the field and the programs available. It was in my first semester of college that I officially decided I wanted to go into the radiologic technology field.
Q. How much did you know about rad tech before you began the CUKC degree program?
A. I realized that I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did before starting the program. We learned about so many different aspects, from positioning, anatomy, physics, radiobiology, and so on.
Q. What was the reaction of those close to you when you shared that you were going to become a rad tech?
A. When I told my friends and family that I was planning to pursue a career in radiology, they were and still are very excited for me! Most of my friends and family don’t know too much about radiology, so it is fun to share with them some of the new things I learn and get to do.
Q. What do you enjoy the most about the field you chose?
A. I enjoy the fact that each day on the job is different from the last. I’m always learning more and more each day. I also enjoy that this field pushes me to be creative when it comes to imaging. Every patient’s body habitus (build) and medical condition are different, so you may have to position the patient differently for the same exam.
Q. When you think of your career, what keeps you motivated?
A. What keeps me motivated is that I get to help people. Most patients don’t want to go to X-ray, so having a positive attitude can help make a difference in their day. I’m only with the patient for a short time, but talking to them and getting to know them can help ease their minds from everything else.
Q. What was the most valuable part of your CUKC academic experience?
A. The most valuable part was accomplishing things I didn’t think I would be able to. I’m very hard on myself, so I get upset if I’m not performing like I want to. In those situations, I find different ways to study or remember the topic that I’m struggling with. I also appreciated that the faculty offered one-on-one study sessions.
Q. What was the most challenging part of your study and preparation?
A. The most challenging part of my study and preparation was learning how to manage my time wisely between class, clinical, and work. We were very busy with tests and homework in class, and while in clinical, we had a certain number of competencies we had to perform before we graduated. I also worked at a hospital on weekends for extra experience, so it was easy to feel like a lot was going on at once. It was important to learn time management skills and to stay focused, but it was all worth it!
Q. What personal characteristics have helped you to become a success in your profession?
A. Being personable, caring, and having a positive attitude. It is important to be mindful of others and the condition they are in. Also, being motivated and driven are important as well, because we are always on the go!
Q. How prepared were you mentally and academically for this career when you enrolled in the degree program at CUKC?
A. Mentally, I knew this program would be tough, but I did not fully understand what it would be like until I was actually in class. Academically, I was prepared, but I knew It was going to be all new subjects that I hadn’t learned before. I also would say that I gained better test-taking skills as time went on.
Q. Do you see rad tech as a career in itself for you, or is this just a launching point for additional certifications and skill sets in the imaging field.
A. I would also like to eventually gain additional certifications as well. A few other modalities that interest me are CT, mammography, and possibly radiation therapy. One great thing about this field is that there are so many paths you can take once you become a registered X-ray technologist.
Q. Rad tech calls for patient care and an appreciation for technological things, correct?
A. I do find the combination of patient care and technology appealing. Everything in radiology has become digital now and keeps changing as time goes on. It’ll be really interesting to see how much more things change while I am a technologist.
Q. What made the CUKC degree program more appealing for you than the rad tech education offered by other institutions?
A. The CUKC rad tech program was accelerated. Most programs are 22-24 months, but CUKC’s is 16 months. I also liked the fact that the class sizes are small. You definitely get a lot of one-on-one help and get to know your classmates and instructors better.
Q. What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
A. The advice I would give to someone is that it’s very hard work, as well as time-consuming. You have to give it your all and be focused. What you learn in the rad tech program are all new things that you most likely haven’t been taught before. Some topics will click more than others, but it’s important to keep at it until you fully grasp it. I would also give them the advice to put themselves out there and make connections because it seems like everyone knows everyone in this field!
Q. What is the most memorable thing about the time you spent at CUKC?
A. Probably getting to know my classmates. There were only six of us, but we all connected very quickly. Another memorable thing is all of the clinical experience I gained.
Q. How prepared did you feel to enter your field?
A. Being in the clinical setting and getting hands-on experience for 10 months prior to graduation helped tremendously. I was excited to start working so I could continue to learn new things every day.
Q. How will you “be the difference” in healthcare as a rad tech?
A. Patient care is the most important aspect of healthcare. I want to make the patients I see as comfortable as I can while doing their X-rays and make sure I am listening to them. I want to always be positive while I’m working so I can help make the patients’ day a little bit better. The other day, a patient told me that they really appreciated my positive attitude. That was such a compliment to me, and I hope to always make my patients feel that way.