NOTE: See edit below for explanation of text in bold.
OK, where to start? My name is Dustin and I have created this blog, so that others can follow my experiences and thoughts as I enter school to be trained as a Radiologic Technologist (also known as a Rad Tech, X-ray Tech, or Radiographer). I have searched and searched for blogs on this subject and there don't seem to be to many out there, so hopefully, by sharing my thoughts and experiences, it will help prepare students in similar programs for what is ahead of them.
Just to give a little background on me. Unfortunately, I spent the first 7 years out of high school getting a "higher" education in a field which pays horribly and has almost no job availability or job security. "You can be whatever you want!" they told me, "Follow your dreams" and other such rubbish. That idea is all fine and dandy until you have to find a way to pay rent, buy food and pay your car insurance. Basically, I have a master's degree that will get me a job punching numbers into a computer, a job which a drunken monkey could do with very little problem. Oh yeah, it also pays about as much as a job at Starbucks. Soooooo, long story short....I needed a change. I wanted to change careers, but didn't want to make the same mistake I made the first time. So after months of researching I found that the position of Radiologic Technician, seemed to fit my personality and skill set quite nicely. Job openings for this position were plentiful in addition to paying well and provided numerous opportunities for advancement. My wife had recently finished nursing school and was adjusting to her first job as an RN, so she was partly responsible for pointing me in the direction of the healthcare field. Something I thank her for on a regular basis.
Like I said I didn't want to make a decision until I had all the information I could get about it. So I called the local hospital and asked if i could shadow an X-ray Tech for a day or two so I could see what an average day was like for someone in this position. Well, my experience there clinched it for me. I was convinced this was a job I could do, and do well. It was exciting, required specialized skills, dealt heavily in science (my favorite subject since I was kid) and allowed you to help people. In short, a lot more satisfying than doing data entry all day long as I am doing now.
So my next step was to find a school with a good program. I live in Flagstaff, Arizona, a small mountain town of about 60,000 people and although there is a large university here, it did not have a radiography program. The next closest large city with schools that had a program in radiography is Phoenix, a 2.5 hour trip from Flagstaff. I looked at all three of the schools there, taking into account several factors including: length of program, cost of program, clinical/extern experience provided, length of waiting list, etc. The one that stood out was SPS (Some Phoenix School) . It was a 2 year program and although it cost more than some others, there was no waiting list, which meant I could finish the program in 2 years and be out earning money before I could even finish my prerequisite classes at some of the other schools. It also came highly recommended by the X-ray Techs I talked to during my shadowing.
So I wasted no time in putting in my application. They required records of past schooling, grade averages, etc. I also had to take 2 placement tests, which determine if you have at least the basic education necessary to enter the program. These were reading and comprehension, and basic algebra. I passed these easily and was accepted into the program for the semester starting January 3, 2006. So as you can see from the date stamp of this post, I still have about 2 months to go before I start classes. During which time I will have to do several things:
1. Quit my present job! This I am looking forward to very much. I have not liked it for many months and can't wait to make the change.
2. Find housing in Phoenix. I am looking to rent out a room in someone's apt or house. This will only be for the first 8 months of the program, since after that I will be in externships full time outside of the Phoenix Metro area. Unfortunately, my wife, Becky, agreed to a sign-on bonus when she started at the hospital in Flagstaff and must continue to work there for 2 years. That means I will have to live away from my wife for at least 8 months and up to 2 years while I am in school. This is a crappy development to say the least, but she has seen how miserable I have been in my present job and has been very supportive in my decision to change careers.
3. Fix my back. I have had chronic back pain for several years and I will soon be seeing a specialist who will hopefully get me on the track to fixing this problem.
I am sure there are many, many other small issues to deal with before school, but I look forward to dealing with them. I have needed a change for quite some time and I am much anticipating the future.
So now you are up-to-date regarding my situation.
I will do my best to update this blog regularly, telling about what's happening in my life and passing on info regarding the field of radiography. I will not start school until January 3rd, 2006, so updates may be slow in coming until then, but once I start I am sure I will have many experiences I will want to share.
EDIT: Originally when I wrote this post, I had named the school and program I had decided on. However, after thinking about it, I may have the desire, or possibly the need, to complain about the program, various instructors, etc. And I realized it was probably best not to use any specific names, should some one from the school find this blog and raise a ruckus about it (as if anyone is reading this anyway!). So the school I chose will now be referred to as SPS (Some Phoenix School) when I write about it.